The US Missile Defense Agency successfully completed a flight test of a three-stage ground-based interceptor missile Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 5 p.m. EST. The missile carried an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) designed to hit and kill enemy missiles.
“Data from this flight test will be used to evaluate the EKV system performance,” the Department of Defense said in a press statement on Saturday. A target missile was not planned for this flight test.
“If a target missile were present, the EKV would collide directly with the threat warhead to perform a hit-to-kill intercept,” the Defense Department said. “Engineering data from this test will be used to improve confidence for future intercept missions.”
After separating from the booster, the EKV executed a variety of pre-planned maneuvers to collect performance data in space. Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
The launch, designated Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Control Test Vehicle-01 (GM CTV-01), is part of an extensive test series initiated after testing was halted in early 2011 when a guidance error resulted in a failed intercept during Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor-06a in December 2010. The EKV flown during GM CTV-01 was modified based on findings from the FTG-06a Failure Review Board.
"Returning to flight has been the top priority for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program. We have used industry and government's combined expertise to solve a complex technical issue related to what the interceptor's EKV experiences in space,” said Norm Tew, Boeing vice president and GMD program director. “Today's success is an important step toward our next goal of a successful intercept test."
Boeing has served as prime contractor for GMD since 2001 and works with industry partners Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences Corp. and Raytheon.
"This test moves us one step closer to an intercept flight test in 2013,” said Wes Kremer, Raytheon Missile Systems' vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems.