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former IAEA Director-General

New ICBM Cost May Rise Further
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May 2017
By Kingston Reif

The Pentagon’s former top acquisition official said that the cost to build a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system could end up exceeding the Defense Department’s current estimate of $85 billion. Frank Kendall, former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, told Arms Control Today in an April 5 interview that he would be “delighted” if the cost dropped below the current estimate, but said he did not “expect that to happen.” Kendall approved the $85 billion figure last summer as part of the new ICBM program’s so-called milestone A decision, a key early benchmark in the acquisition process. That figure was at the low end of the independent projection prepared by the Pentagon’s Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation and, even so, exceeded the Air Force’s 2015 cost estimate of $62.3 billion in then-year dollars. (See ACT, March 2017.) Kendall said that there is more uncertainty than usual about the estimated cost of the program, pending design determination and “more detailed, bottom-up cost analysis.”

Posted: May 1, 2017