Home Uncategorized Why US Air Force fired top program manager for next-gen ‘Sentinel’ missiles

Why US Air Force fired top program manager for next-gen ‘Sentinel’ missiles


The US Air Force has removed Colonel Charles Clegg, the official in charge of the development of the next-generation ‘Sentinel’ intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This missile is set to replace the aging Minuteman III, a crucial component of the United States’ nuclear triad, originally deployed in the 1970s.
Colonel Clegg’s dismissal comes amid growing concerns over the escalating costs associated with the Sentinel program.Earlier this year, Congress launched a review of the project after its budget surged by at least 37%, reaching an estimated $131 billion. The House Appropriations Committee, in its fiscal 2025 budget request report, said it was “stunned to learn” of the significant cost increase.
Despite the cost overruns, lawmakers have approved $3.4 billion for the Sentinel program for the coming year, which is $340 million less than requested. The review was mandated by a 1982 law after the project’s expenses exceeded the budget by more than a third over the past two years.
According to a statement from the US Air Force, Colonel Clegg was ousted on Monday “because he did not follow organizational procedures.” A spokesperson for the Air Force cited a “loss of confidence” in Clegg but clarified that his dismissal was not “directly related” to the congressional review.
The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are now tasked with justifying the cost overruns and presenting a convincing case to lawmakers. The bulk of the funds are reportedly needed for significant upgrades to existing launch sites and communication lines, a complex endeavor involving real estate purchases, construction, deconstruction, removal and installation of equipment, and nuclear certification. This process is expected to take nearly ten years.
Pranay Vaddi, special assistant to the president and senior director for arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation at the National Security Council, recently indicated that President Joe Biden had issued updated nuclear weapons employment guidance. This new guidance considers the evolving nuclear landscape, emphasizing the need to account for the growing and diverse nuclear arsenals of China, Russia, and North Korea.
“It emphasizes the need to account for the growth and diversity of [China’s] nuclear arsenal – and the need to deter Russia, [China], and North Korea simultaneously,” Vaddi said.

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