Pentagon kills contract for part of missile meant to hit ICBMs

The Defense Department terminated a $1.5 billion contract with Boeing that was to develop a new front end of a missile designed to “hit to kill” incoming North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

The so-called Redesigned Kill Vehicle program ran into what the Pentagon called classified issues on the design that could not be resolved. The RKV is not a warhead in the typical sense because it does not explode. Rather, it sits atop a US interceptor missile that is fired against a threat and when it separates from that missile it hits the target, or adversary missile, and knocks it out.

The RKV was supposed to be an improvement to an existing program by providing more advanced in flight communications to hit its target. Now the program will start over and a new interceptor missile will also be developed.

The Pentagon says the 44 interceptors located in Alaska and California equipped with the existing front end kill vehicle provide sufficient protection against North Korea until a new program comes on line.

“Ending the program was the responsible thing to do,” said Dr. Michael Griffin, under secretary of defense for research and engineering. “Development programs sometimes encounter problems. After exercising due diligence, we decided the path we’re going down wouldn’t be fruitful, so we’re not going down that path anymore. This decision supports our efforts to gain full value from every future taxpayer dollar spent on defense.”