Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missile Plan Target Date in Doubt, Cohen Says Failures Could Delay Start-Up until 2006

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missile Plan Target Date in Doubt, Cohen Says Failures Could Delay Start-Up until 2006

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Two consecutive failures to shoot down a mock warhead in space with a land-based interceptor have "called into question the realism" of having a national missile defense ready by 2005, Defense Secretary William Cohen said yesterday.

Nonetheless, Cohen said that it is too early to give up on the 2005 target date. Yet he conceded in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the failed flight tests in January and July were unhelpful.

"Perhaps it has called into question the realism of the date," Cohen said, noting that this was the view of retired Gen. Larry Welch, head of a panel that is advising the Pentagon on its national missile defense project.

Cohen is due to make a recommendation to President Clinton -- probably in mid-August -- on whether to proceed toward having a system of 20 missile interceptors and a new high-powered X-band radar ready by 2005.

It is possible that Cohen would recommend moving the start-up date to 2006 or later. …

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