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Pentagon To Stick with Sentinel ICBM Despite Cost Increases

The Defense Department announced yesterday that it would be sticking with the Sentinel ICBM program despite cost increases that have amounted to up to 81% of the original cost estimates for the program. According to a Pentagon press release, Bill LaPlante, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, has certified that the Sentinel program met the five statutory criteria to continue. That is, the department deemed the Sentinel “essential to national security"; it determined that no alternatives to the program exist; new cost estimates have been determined to be reasonable; the program is a higher priority than programs whose funding must be reduced to accommodate the growth in cost of the program; and the “management structure for the program is adequate to manage and control program acquisition unit cost or procurement unit cost.”

However, as part of the certification, LaPlante rescinded the program’s Milestone B approval—the point at which an acquisition program is authorized to move into the engineering and manufacturing development phase—and “directed the Air Force to restructure the Sentinel program to address the root causes of the breach and ensure an appropriate management structure is in place to control costs in the future.”

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