The commander of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said the Pentagon is finally getting close to completing military construction on the Poland Aegis Ashore site, expecting to have it ready by 2022 after further delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re getting very, very close to completing the military construction out there. We’ve got the Aegis system on site, it’s been onsite. We’re taking that out right now and starting to do testing on it, get ready to do that installation,” Vice Adm. Jon Hill said Tuesday during the virtual Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
The Poland site was originally expected to be delivered by late 2018, but in early 2018 then-MDA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves disclosed military construction issues pushed it back to 2020 due to bad seasonal weather and less than expected performance from the construction contractor (Defense Daily, April 13, 2018).
The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead agency building the site, contracting out the construction to prime contractor the Wood Group.
A 2019 Government Accountability Office report said continuing site delays were accumulating and pushing delivery into mid-2020 (Defense Daily, June 7, 2019).
During the FY ’21 budget request briefing, Hill said MDA was seeking another $96 million to finish the Poland site and said they expect it to finally be ready by 2022. At the time, Hill said the main construction contractor had problems with the “last tactical mile” even if the whole site was about 92 percent finished (Defense Daily, Feb. 12).
He specified design and engineering in the construction contract was having problems with components like auxiliary controls, heating, power, cooling, and things that feed a combat system.
However, in March Hill told a congressional panel the Corps of Engineers was refusing payments to the contractor to induce better performance.
On Tuesday, Hill said “the global pandemic really gave us a hard time out in Poland.”
“Where we are in Poland today is all the Navy facilities have been transferred over to the Navy, so you have the Navy crew onboard, you’ve got the security forces there, so that’s a good first step,” he continued.
Hill said the Poland site is now at about 90 percent complete in terms of military construction.
“We are seeing an uptick in the construction folks for the Army Corps side of that construction, which is really about getting the weapons system housing in place so we can install, then, the Aegis onsite.”
Hill predicted the Poland site will “make great strides” for the rest of 2020 as they get back on track after getting past “fall backs” from the pandemic “and we’re going to really go hot in ’21, be able to get that site up and running.”