The US Department of Defence should perform a detailed analysis on the rising costs associated with deploying the Lockheed Martin Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile, says the US General Accounting Office (GAO).

The Congressional watchdog says the estimated cost of the air defence project, including production of 1,012 missiles, has risen from $4 to $7 billion because of the difficulty in developing a hit-to-kill interceptor. Procurement costs escalated because of a seven year production stretchout.

There is also a major gap between the US Army's requirement for 2,200 missiles and the production programme. Meanwhile, the US Army is trying to control costs through hardware changes and contracting strategies.

The US Army successfully shot down a target simulating a low-flying cruise missile with a PAC-3 missile late last month at the White Sands Missile Test Range, New Mexico. It was the fourth consecutive intercept for the weapon, an upgrade of the Patriot air defence missile, and the first against cruise missiles.

Source: Flight International