Two-shot salvo

Defensive technologies destroy a ballistic missile target in test

The 'lead' ground-based Interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,

The 'lead' Ground-based Interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on March 25, 2019, in the first-ever salvo engagement test of a target representing an ICBM. Two GBIs successfully intercepted a target launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

For the first time, the Missile Defense Agency, in partnership with a Boeing-led industry team, launched two Raytheon Technologies-built Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles in a back-to-back test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system. 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 program, which is designed to protect the U.S. 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.

Raytheon Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles destroy mock ICBM in two-shot salvo missile defense test.

After receiving tracking and targeting data from Raytheon Technologies' 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.

The AN/TPY-2 is a missile-defense radar that can detect, classify and track ballistic missiles. It operates in the X band of the electromagnetic spectrum. For this test, the AN/TPY-2 operated in a forward-based mode used to detect ballistic missiles as they rise, versus a terminal mode that can guide interceptors toward a descending warhead.

“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, a missile defense director at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies. “The precision a kill vehicle intercept requires begins with the critical targeting data.”

The test marked Raytheon Technologies’ second intercept of an ICBM target. The company’s kill vehicles have a record of more than 40 successful space intercepts.

Published On: 03/25/2019