Boeing Consortium Demos US Ground-Based Interceptor Against Ballistic Missile in Space

A Boeing-led consortium has demonstrated the US Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system against an intermediate-range ballistic missile in space.

GMD neutralizes high-altitude threats such as intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying conventional, nuclear, chemical, or biological warheads.

The team tested the GMD’s Capability Increment 6B, a configuration enabling “more time, space, and flexibility” to intercept threats against a Northrop Grumman-made target missile.

The GMD interceptor deployed a kinetic-force Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle upon the rocket booster’s second stage of a three-stage flight sequence to disrupt the threat.

Operators fired the GMD from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California while the target vehicle was air-launched from a broad ocean area site.

The recent MDA test demonstrates reliability and performance of the GMD systems. (Photo Credit: Northrop Grumman)
Rendering of Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Ground-Based Interceptor launch test. Photo: Northrop Grumman

Throughout the trial, the GMD platform leveraged data from multiple sensors to identify and characterize the inbound threat and used this information to formulate a defensive approach.

“This successful test is important because it opens up the window of opportunity to intercept threats to our homeland,” Boeing Strategic Missiles & Defense Systems VP Debbie Barnett stated.

“We’re committed to continuously enhancing the GMD system’s capability to meet rapidly evolving missile defense needs for the nation.”

The GMD Program

According to Northrop, the GMD is currently stationed in multiple locations and is the only operational missile defense technology shielding the US from adversarial intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles.

Since its inception in the late 1980s, the GMD program has undergone similar tests and numerous operations, maturation, and maintenance to sustain the interceptor’s functionality.

“As the threat landscape advances, it’s critical to ensure our homeland defense systems are tested and proven in the event of an attack,” Northrop Grumman Launch and Missile Defense Systems VP Scott Lehr said.

“This successful test demonstrates we are ready and have confidence in the [Missile Defense Agency’s] end-to-end missile defense solutions that are deployed today.” 

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