In May, TRW, the U.S. contractor for one of Israel's key new weapons systems, the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) was reportedly prepared to abandon the project because of disagreements with the U.S. Army and Israeli government over who was responsible for paying for cost-overruns (Inside the Pentagon, May 27, 1999). According to the Associated Press (August 4, 1999), the contract was modified in June, two months after TRW was supposed to have completed work.
The company now agrees to pay half of the additional development costs until the system successfully shoots down a Katyusha rocket in flight during field testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The U.S. and Israeli governments will pay the other half. After a successful shootdown, TRW will pay one-quarter of the remaining costs and the two governments will pay the rest.
The program has cost $130.8 million since it started in 1996. It ran into problems with schedule delays and cost overruns that forced a choice between halting the project or investing more.
Photo courtesy of TRW Inc.