The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “strongly objects” to a $42 million reduction to re-scope a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA flight test in the House’s FY 2020 defense authorization bill.

The OMB issued a Statement of Administration Policy on July 9 listing its disagreements with the House bill ahead of voting on amendments and the final bill in the chamber. The House passed the authorization bill largely on a party line basis on Friday (Defense Daily, July 12).

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy sailors manning the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii, successfully conduct launch a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor in Flight Test Integrated-03 (FTI-03). (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

A provision in the bill re-scopes the SM-3 IIA test from testing against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)-range threat to instead test against an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM).

Last month, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved an amendment from Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) that reversed a related change in the bill during the full committee markup. The chairman’s mark of the defense authorization bill originally included a provision that restricted the scheduled test of an SM-3 IIA against an ICBM target by December 2020 to only occur after it first finishes “operationally realistic testing” against medium and intermediate range targets (Defense Daily, June 13).

That provision required the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation to first certify the interceptor has been tested enough to prove effectiveness against the shorter range threats before moving on to ICBM-range tests.

Turner’s amendment passed 32-24, with five Democrats in favor, after he argued the change would cost $120 million in sunk costs and set back SM-3 IIA testing by two years because the Missile Defense Agency had already scheduled the ICBM-range test in accordance with direction form the FY 2018 defense authorization act.

However, Turner’s amendment did not restore funding to the ICBM-range test.

HASC spokeswoman Monica Matoush told Defense Daily in a statement that Turner’s amendment did not restore funding and “the funding table stub entries reflect the intent to rescope the test. Funding would likely need to be restored to execute the flight test as planned in FY ‘20.”

Matoush noted the House’s defense appropriations bill similarly directed a rescope in their funding tables.

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said its analysis found flight testing to demonstrate SM-3 IIA performance against IRBMs has been reduced by 80 percent. It raised the idea of using delays in construction of the Poland Aegis Ashore missile defense site to conduct additional flight testing before the site is delivered on a delayed basis in FY 2020 (Defense Daily, June 7).

The SM-3 IIA and Poland Aegis Ashore site are part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense program.

The original EPAA Phase 3 plan had five IRBM intercepts in three tests. After delays and flight test issues, the current plan reduced IRBM intercepts and does not include a raid test until after Phase 3 capability is declared.

The GAO said EPAA Phase 3 intends to provide a defense against IRBM and raids of multiple targets, “but tests to demonstrate that capability have been reduced from five to one.”

While the GAO said additional flight testing to demonstrate capability against EPAA Phase 3 threats “is necessary,” the Defense Department only plans to use the Poland site delay for additional round tests and not flight tests.

Raytheon [RTN] builds the various Standard Missile variants, including the SM-3 IIA, while Lockheed martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for the Aegis system.