For the first time, the US Missile Defense Agency, launched two Raytheon-built Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles in a back-to-back test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.
The organisation say that one EKV destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile and the other gathered data in what is called a “two-shot salvo” engagement.
It was the eleventh intercept for the GMD programme, which is designed to protect the US by destroying incoming ballistic missiles while they are still in space. The historic double launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California mirrored a real-world scenario, where more than one interceptor is fired to ensure an incoming missile will be destroyed.
“The system is among the most complex, and serves as the first line of ballistic missile defense for the United States,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president in a news statement after the launch.
After receiving tracking and targeting data from Raytheon’s sea-based X-band radar and land-based AN/TPY-2 radar, the EKV identified the target, discriminated between the target and countermeasures, maneuvered into the target’s path and destroyed it using “hit-to-kill” technology. Both radars play critical roles in supporting the GMD system.
“In these tests, we see the entire ballistic missile defense system at work. The sensors bring the ability to identify, track and discriminate threats early in the engagement,” said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Raytheon’s Mission Systems and Sensors.
“The precision a kill vehicle intercept requires begins with the critical targeting data.”