The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) conducted a successful intercept test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) class target on March 25 in the first salvo test using two Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs).
In this test, the first GBI, called GBI-Lead, destroyed the target reentry vehicle while the second GBI, called GBI-Trail, examined the resulting debris. When GBI-Trail did not find other reentry vehicles, it selected the next “most lethal object” it could find and attacked it as designed. This was called a two-shot salvo test and designated FTG-11.
The ICBM-representative target was launched form the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands while the GBIs were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The Defense Department used ground, sea, and space-based Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) sensors to provide real-time target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system. The GBIs were launched after the C2BMC received the data.
MDA said initial indications are the test met its requirements, but officials will continue to evaluate system performance based on telemetry and other data from the test.
“This was the first GBI salvo intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target, and it was a critical milestone. The system worked exactly as it was designed to do, and the results of this test provide evidence of the practicable use of the salvo doctrine within missile defense,” MDA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in a statement.
“This test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” he added.
MDA conducted the test in cooperation with the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Northern Command, and elements of the U.S. Air Force Space Command’s 30th, 50th, and 460th Space Wings.
Boeing [BA] serves as prime contractor for the GMD system and retained its status in a $6.56 billion award last year. Boeing has served in the role since 2001 (Defense Daily, Jan. 31, 2018).
Last week Boeing won a $4.1 billion modification to definitize part of a $6.56 billion January 2018 contract as the prime integrator (Defense Daily, March 25).
“The data collected from this test will enhance missile defense for years to come and solidify confidence in the system. We continue to increase the system’s reliability as the U.S. government plans to expand the number of interceptors protecting the country,” Paul Smith, Boeing vice president and program director for the GMD system, said in a statement.
A major subcontractor in the program to prime contractor Boeing, Northrop Grumman [NOC] officials also praised the test results.
Northrop Grumman built the ICBM test target; GBI boost vehicles; and is responsible for development, integration, operations, and sustainment of the ground systems.
“This critical test of the nation’s defense shield showcases Northrop Grumman’s launch vehicles and our battlefield management and fire control capabilities. We are proud to play an integral role on a system that is so vital to the security of our country. This was a very challenging test and I congratulate the MDA and the entire team on their excellent performance,” Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager, of missile defense and protective systems at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement.
“Today’s mission was the most complex GMD test conducted thus far. This was the first time Northrop Grumman had three rockets operating at the same time; two interceptors launched against our target, and the systems worked as planned,” Rich Straka, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager for launch vehicles, added.
GMD interceptors are based out of Vandenberg and Fort Greely, Alaska.