U.S. Rep Mike Rogers (R-Saks), chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, urged military officials on Tuesday to accelerate the development of a missile that his largest campaign contributor is competing to obtain the right to produce.
Rodgers delivered his remarks during a hearing on the U.S. Military’s position in the Indo-Pacific Region, which comprises West Africa, Southern Asia, Northern Australia and the Philippines.
Rogers cited the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) increase in defense spending, modernization of conventional forces, arsenal expansion and technological advancements as reasons China poses a severe threat to U.S. national defense.
He also accused Chinese President Xi Jinping of illegally constructing “militarized islands,” attempting to limit navigation in the South China Sea, being diplomatic with Russian President Vladimir Putin and simulating a blockade and invasion of Taiwan with military exercises.
“It’s gotten to the point where Xi’s foreign ministry is now seeking to intimidate the Speaker and other members of Congress just for supporting democracy and self-determination for the people of Taiwan,” Rogers stated.
Rogers said North Korea is a major threat, too, accusing the country of rebuilding its nuclear testing facility and testing solid-fuel ICBMs, which he called “extremely troubling news.”
“That’s why it’s so imperative for us to invest in missile defense and accelerate the Next Generation Interceptor program,” Rogers said.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) launched the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program in August 2019 to upgrade ground-based interceptor missiles and selected two defense contractors to compete for the right to build the missiles: Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
In 2021, the contract was estimated to have a maximum value of $1.6 billion through fiscal year (FY) 2022. A Pentagon’s Office of Cost and Program Evaluation (CAPE) report estimated that the program would cost the federal government $17.7 billion to develop, deploy and maintain. Each NGI costs at least $74 million. The MDA already allocated $7.6 billion to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Lockheed Martin is Rogers’ largest campaign contributor. Individuals and organizations associated with Lockheed Martin gave him $60,750 during the 2022 election cycle.
This isn’t the first time he’s urged those in charge of the U.S. military to make use of Lockheed-manufactured weapons. In January, Rogers urged the Biden administration to “approve without delay” the deployment of surface-to-surface artillery weapons manufactured by the contractor to Ukraine.
Both teams competing in the contract have located their NGI program headquarters in Huntsville.
“We have no choice but to take Xi’s threats seriously, and we have to be resolute in our response,” Rogers said. “... China is not going to give us 10 or 20 years to prepare for conflict. We simply cannot procrastinate further.”
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