Cost of Pentagon’s Nuclear Upgrades Skyrockets 81%

( – The US military is in the process of upgrading and replacing its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). A new report indicates the Pentagon is severely over budget and behind schedule.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is overseeing the Sentinel ICBM program. It aims to replace the Minuteman III missiles. The original price tag for the program was $95.8 billion. On July 8, the Pentagon confirmed the price of the program is now $140.9 billion. That’s an 81% increase from the cost estimate in September 2020. Reuters reported that the program’s cost could increase to $160 billion.

Experts worried the rising cost could force the Pentagon to scale back the program and endanger nuclear readiness. However, the Pentagon made it clear it didn’t intend to go that route.

US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante defended the government’s decision to move forward with the program, saying the Pentagon is “fully aware of the costs” but that the US faces a risk if it doesn’t continue “modernizing [its] nuclear forces” and ignores the threats facing the country.

LaPlante also said there were reasons for the increase in cost, but they weren’t excusable. He said the Pentagon is looking for ways to “address the root causes.”

Northrop Grumman Corp. hasn’t commented on the reason for the increased cost or the expanded timeline. Though it’s not clear what led to the increased costs, lawmakers have been raising the alarm about price gouging from military contractors in recent years.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) even introduced the Stop Price Gouging the Military Act. The lawmaker pointed out that reports have found military contractors charge the US government exorbitant prices, like forcing them to pay $71 for a pin that should only cost 5 cents.

While the Pentagon didn’t accuse Northrop Grumman Corp of inflating the prices as others have in the past, there’s no denying the cost is wildly over budget, and the Defense Department has to do something about it.

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