Lawmaker pushes to keep Patriot missile variant in Army inventory

April 14, 2017

Defense News:

There’s growing concern the U.S. Army’s munition stockpile is shrinking as it supports operations in the Middle East, and Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., is pushing to prevent the service’s lower-cost interceptor — the Patriot Guided Enhanced Missile — from being phased out of the inventory.

Aside from the U.S. Army, the GEM-T — used to intercept tactical ballistic missiles — is in the inventory of five countries where all except one are in the Middle East and are likely being used to intercept tactical ballistic missile launches by Houthi militants in Yemen.

The Saudi Arabian government most recently reported intercepting four tactical ballistic missiles fired by the rebel force at the end of March, just another attack in a long string of attacks.

“Since Jan. 1, 2015, Patriot has intercepted more than 100 Tactical Ballistic Missiles during combat operations; more than 90 of those 100+ intercepts were with the GEM-T,” read a letter from Shuster, which was circulated to House colleagues last month.

But while tactical ballistic missile attacks heat up in the Middle East signaling a greater need, the Army made a decision not to recertify the GEM-T missile several years ago and it now stands to be slowly phased out of the inventory.

The decision not to recertify the GEM-T seems to have been based strictly on budget woes the Army faced in 2013 under the Budget Control Act, according to a senior Capitol Hill defense staffer.

In a perfect world, the Army would have funded both the recertification of the GEM-T missile and the production of its most state-of-the-art Patriot missile — the Missile Segment Enhanced version. But with depleting funds, the Army had to prioritize Patriot MSE, the staffer said.

Indications from the Army is it wants to have GEM-T in the toolkit should funding become available, the staffer added…

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