The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) revealed it has test-launched a kill vehicle mock-up with curtailed boosting stages for earlier release.
The maiden launch in two stages of the three-stage Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) kill vehicle allowed greater time and space for interception.
Greater Flexibility in Missile Defense
“This new capability is known as a 2-/3-Stage selectable GBI. This capability gives the warfighter greater flexibility in executing the defense of the homeland while significantly increasing the battlespace for successful threat engagement,” the agency stated.
MDA Director Vice Admiral Jon Hill remarked: “The system worked exactly as it was designed to do, and the results of this test provide evidence of the greatly increased battlespace the selectable booster brings to the Warfighter.
“The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we continue to provide enhanced capabilities for our existing Ground-Based Interceptor fleet while we rapidly design and deliver the leap-ahead technology of the Next Generation Interceptor.”
Features and Future Upgrades
According to Boeing-Raytheon, the GMD system is America’s only operationally deployed long-range ballistic missile defense for homeland protection (including Alaska and Hawaii). It detects and tracks a ballistic missile during the boost phase, intercepting and destroying it mid-flight. The kill vehicle atop the missile uses “sensors and lenses and rocket thrusters” to spot a missile warhead before colliding with it.
Future upgrades to the system include “sensing and tracking capabilities” to assess the threat after initial engagement “while retaining the time to engage again if necessary. This is our first step toward a robust ‘shoot-assess-shoot’ capability,” Hill added.