WASHINGTON (NNS) — The U.S. military successfully intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile test target June 22 launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, according to a Defense Department news release.
The Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Navy completed an integrated exercise of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense element of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System, according to the release.
“I am very proud of the government and industry team conducting the test today. Their professionalism and dedication made this test a success,” Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring, the Missile Defense Agency’s director, said in the release.
During the test today, the release said, a long-range ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile target launched from Kwajalein.
The test, designated Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor-06b, will provide necessary data to assess the performance of numerous ballistic missile defense elements for homeland defense, the release said.
The successful test “is a very important step in our continuing efforts to improve and increase the reliability of our homeland ballistic missile defense system,” Syring said in the release.
“We’ll continue efforts to ensure our deployed ground-based interceptors and our overall homeland defensive architecture continue to provide the warfighter an effective and dependable system to defend the country,” the admiral added.
For this exercise, a threat-representative, intermediate-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Reagan Test Site, the release said. The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper, with its Aegis Weapon System, detected and tracked the target using its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar, which provided data to the GMD fire control system via the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication system. The Sea-Based X-Band radar also tracked the target and relayed information to the GMD fire control system to assist in the target engagement and collect test data.
About six minutes after target launch, the Ground-Based Interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to the release. A three-stage booster rocket system propelled the interceptor’s Capability Enhancement II EKV into the target missile’s projected trajectory in space. The kill vehicle maneuvered to the target, performed discrimination, and intercepted the threat warhead with “hit to kill” technology, using only the force of the direct collision between the interceptor and the target to destroy the target warhead. This was the first intercept using the second-generation Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle.
An operational crew of U.S. Army soldiers from the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, remotely launched the interceptor, the release said.
Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, according to the release. Program officials will spend the next several months conducting an extensive assessment and evaluation of system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
The test was the 65th successful hit-to-kill intercept of 81 attempts since 2001 for the Ballistic Missile Defense System, the release said. The GMD element of the system has completed four intercepts using the operationally configured interceptor since 2006. Operational Ground-Based Interceptors are currently deployed at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, protecting the nation and its friends and allies against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack.