Monday, December 8, 2008

Details: US Missile Defense Test Results in Successful Intercept

A Ground-Based Interceptor is shown shortly after liftoff from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on December 5, 2008. The launch, designated FTG-05, was a test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. The missile successfully intercepted a long-range target launched from Kodiak, Alaska several minutes earlier. (Photo by US Missile Defense Agency.)

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2008 -- The Missile Defense Agency announced today it has completed an important exercise and flight test involving a successful intercept by a ground-based interceptor missile designed to protect the United States against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack.

The flight test results will help to further refine the performance of numerous Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) elements able to provide a defense against the type of long-range ballistic missile that could be used to attack the nation with a weapon of mass destruction.

For this exercise, a threat-representative target missile was launched from Kodiak, Alaska at 3:04 p.m. (EST). This long-range ballistic target was tracked by several land- and sea-based radars, which sent targeting information to the interceptor missile. At 3:23 p.m. (EST)the ground-based interceptor was launched from the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site, located at Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), Calif. The interceptor's exoatmospheric kill vehicle was carried into the target's predicted trajectory in space, maneuvered to the target, performed discrimination and intercepted the threat warhead.

This was the first time an operational crew located at the alternate fire control center at Ft. Greely, Alaska remotely launched the interceptor from Vandenberg AFB. In previous interceptor launches from Vandenberg, military crews at the fire control center at Schriever AFB, Colo., remotely launched the interceptor.

The target was successfully tracked by a transportable AN/TPY-2 radar located in Juneau, Alaska, a U.S. Navy Aegis BMD ship with SPY-1 radar, the Upgraded Early Warning Radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and the Sea-Based X-band radar. Each sensor sent information to the fire control system, which integrated the data together to provide the most accurate target trajectory for the interceptor.

The interceptor's exoatmospheric kill vehicle is the component that collides directly with a target warhead in space to perform a "hit to kill" intercept using only the force of the collision to totally destroy the target warhead.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed.

Program officials will evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

This was the 37th successful hit-to-kill intercept of 47 attempts since 2001 for the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Operational ground-based interceptors are currently deployed at Ft. Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg AFB, protecting the nation, and allies against ballistic missile attack.

(Report from a Missile Defense Agency Public Affairs news release.)

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