A prestigious science group is casting more doubt on whether the Obama administration’s Europe-based missile defense shield can protect the United States and recommends scrapping key parts of the system.

The conclusions from the National Academy of Sciences in a letter to lawmakers obtained by The Associated Press could complicate the administration’s efforts to get Congress to fund the program. Though the academy says the plans would effectively protect Europe, some lawmakers are already asking why the U.S., at a time of tight budgets, should spend billions on a system that provides limited homeland defense.

The academy’s letter bolsters two earlier reports by Defense Department advisers and congressional investigators that said the European system faced significant delays, cost overruns and technology problems.

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