Pentagon axes troubled $1 billion contract for 'Redesigned Kill Vehicle' missile defense system
FILE PHOTO: The Pentagon in Washington, U.S., is seen from aboard Air Force One, March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it is terminating a troubled billion-dollar program to develop a ballistic missile interceptor, citing design problems.

The Defense Department said it would seek bids for a new version of the weapons system called the Redesigned Kill Vehicle, or RKV. The program was being led by Boeing.

"Ending the program was the responsible thing to do," said Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.

"Development programs sometimes encounter problems. After exercising due diligence, we decided the path we're going down wouldn't be fruitful, so we're not going down that path anymore," Griffin added.

The ground-based system was supposed to work by firing off a "kill vehicle" from an interceptor missile to defend the US against long-range ballistic missile attacks.

But the program suffered years of setbacks.

In December 2018, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency concluded that "certain critical components" failed to meet technical requirements, said a Defense Department spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Carver.

Five months later, Griffin decided to suspend the contract and consider alternatives. The Pentagon finally concluded that the design problems were either insurmountable or too costly to fix, said Carver.

"Research and testing accomplished prior to the program's end will inform development of the next-generation interceptor, which will include a new kill vehicle," he added.