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Where will the money come from?

Where will the money come from? The big question and the Republicans’ number one argument against President Biden’s long-overdue program to repair the country’s infrastructure is: where will the money come from? For example, what about the $40 billion the President asked Congress to spend on the huge need for public housing?

Executives from Northrop Grumman opening their brand new Launch and Missile Defense Systems facility at Chandler, Arizona.

Maybe it could come from a place no one ever asks about even when there’s nothing to show for money already spent.

What about cancelling our missile defense boondoggle? The premise behind national missile defense comes from video games: when a hostile launch is detected, destroy the incoming missiles by ramming them with ground-launched “interceptors.” It’s a strategy known as “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”. In reality, the system is easy to defeat, and has routinely failed even simple, heavily-scripted test intercepts. (1)

To date, the system has cost more than $40 billion—and there’s no end in sight.

In August of last year, the Pentagon announced its intention to build Next-Generation Interceptors. These will replace the current RKV (Redesigned Kill Vehicle) interceptors.

The RKV was cancelled after 10 years in development and three times the original cost estimate.

The RKV was supposed to replace another Kill Vehicle (the Exoatmospheric KV) deployed in 2005 despite controversy and problems with performance in tests.

The Pentagon has already selected Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to compete to develop and build the interceptors. While the Missile Defense Agency anticipates placing the new interceptors roughly by 2027 or 2028, “industry proposals will dictate final schedules and what is doable,” according to the Pentagon.

When they cancelled the RKV program, the DOD Undersecretary of research and engineering said, “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.” (2).

We’re not going down that path anymore? Ask Congress and the defense contractors. The new missile system is “estimated to cost” nearly $18 billion during the life of the program. There is no reason to expect a different outcome from this (as yet unnamed) “kill vehicle” program than those of the past 20 years: Decades of R&D, test flights that fail, billions in taxpayer dollars.

Why not avoid the next $40 billion and use it for housing instead?

Mary Jo Dolis is a naturally skeptical person who occasionally submits something to Works in Progress.

More information is available from Union of Concerned Scientists and Defense News.

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