New U.S. ICBMs Could Cost Up To $264 Billion Over Decades

The Pentagon estimates the cost of its next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile program, including decades of operations and support, could be as high as $264 billion.

That total is $1.9 billion more than the “life-cycle cost” estimated by the Pentagon’s independent cost assessment unit during the program’s first major review in 2016, Defense Department spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said in a statement. The statement didn’t explain why the estimate had grown.

Bloomberg News reported this week that the missile program, known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, could cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $110.6 billion in acquisition expenditures, which include development and procurement. That story listed the additional operations and support cost separately from the acquisition number.

The Pentagon number released Saturday doesn’t include $14.8 billion for the W-87-1 warhead being developed by the Department of Energy.

Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, last month approved the ICBM program going forward and supported the purchase of 659 missiles — 25 for initial testing and 634 for silos, spares and later testing, according to a Sept. 21 report obtained by Bloomberg.

The updated estimate includes a $13 billion contract Northrop Grumman Corp.received in September to start full-scale development and eventual production of missiles intended to replace the aging Minuteman III system, the land-based portion of the U.S. nuclear triad.

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