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Missile Intercept Test Successfu

Missile Intercept Test Successful

Washington D.C. -- (AFPN) March 18, 2002 -- Missile Defense Agency officials successfully completed a test involving a planned intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile target.

A modified Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on March 15. About 30 minutes later, the ICBM was destroyed by a prototype interceptor that was launched 4,800 miles away from the Ronald Reagan Missile Site, Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. This was the fourth successful intercept for the ground-based midcourse defense segment, formerly known as national missile defense.

Photo by Dan Tkach

The test took place over the central Pacific Ocean on Mar 15. A modified Minuteman ICBM target vehicle was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 9:11 p.m. EST. About 20 minutes later, a prototype interceptor was launched 4,800 miles away from the Ronald Reagan Missile Site, Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The intercept took place about 30 minutes after the ICBM was launched, at more than 140 miles above the earth and during the midcourse phase of the ICBMs flight.

This was the fourth successful intercept for the ground-based midcourse defense segment, formerly known as national missile defense, test officials said.

The test successfully demonstrated exoatmospheric kill vehicle flight performance and "hit to kill" technology to intercept and destroy a long-range ballistic missile target, officials said.

Besides the EKV locating, tracking, and intercepting the target, resulting in its destruction using only the body-to-body impact, this test also demonstrated the ability of system elements to work together as an integrated system.

The test involved the integrated operation of space and ground-based sensors and radars, as well as the battle management, command control and communications function to detect the launch of the target missile and cue an early warning radar to provide more detailed target location data. The test also integrated a prototype X-Band radar, based at Kwajalein, to provide precise target data to the EKV, which received the target updates from the in-flight interceptor communications systems at Kwajalein.

The EKV separated from its rocket booster more than 1,400 miles from the target warhead.

After separation, the EKV used its on-board infrared and visual sensors to locate and track the target. Sensors aboard the EKV also successfully selected the target instead of three balloon decoys.

Only system-generated data was used for the intercept after the EKV separated from its booster rocket. A C-band transponder aboard the target warhead did not provide any tracking or targeting information to the interceptor after the interceptor was launched.

This is a major step in the aggressive developmental test program, and is the fourth successful intercept in six attempts, test officials said. Test officials also said they will continue to pursue this testing regime to achieve a layered approach to missile defense, using different architectures to deter the growing threat of ballistic missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction.

Throughout the next several weeks, government and industry program officials will conduct an extensive analysis of the data received during the flight-test to determine whether anomalies or malfunctions occurred during the test, evaluate system performance and determine whether or not all flight-test objectives were met.

Since the system is in the developmental phase of design and testing, performance of individual elements and the overall system integration was as important as the actual intercept, officials said.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).