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PENTAGON FAULTED IN 'STAR WARS' PROGRAM

Pentagon efforts to speed into operation anti-missile weapons inspired by former President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" are marred by poor planning, insufficient testing and political pressure, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The newspaper said a report by an independent panel appointed by the Defense Department warned against a "rush to failure" in what has become the Pentagon's most expensive category of weapons development.

The program is funded to the tune of almost $4 billion a year.

The report said decisions by officials to accept abbreviated timetables and minimal numbers of flight tests in developing the antimissile systems have raised the risk of failures, delays and overruns.

The Post said the panel's sharply negative critique ran counter to the strong political support for antimissile systems, especially among Republicans in Congress.

Republican defense experts on Capitol Hill dismissed the panel's findings, telling the newspaper that the authors of the report failed to appreciate how the urgent need for missile defenses justifies unconventional methods and more inventive development programs.

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