October 4, 2007 The Boeing Company, working with industry teammates and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, has successfully completed a missile defense flight test resulting in the intercept of a target warhead to demonstrate the capability and reliability of the nation's only defense against long-range ballistic missiles.
The test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system began at 4:01 p.m. September 28 Eastern with the launch of a long-range ballistic missile target from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. Seventeen minutes later, military operators launched an interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. As the interceptor flew toward the target, it received target data updates from the upgraded missile-warning radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. After flying into space, the interceptor released its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle, which proceeded to track, intercept and destroy the target warhead.
"Today's successful test is the team's second intercept in less than 13 months and further demonstrates GMD's evolution to a robust and reliable capability for the warfighter," said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. The test, GMD's seventh intercept overall, was the second intercept with an operationally configured interceptor since September 2006. "With another intercept under our belts, we have even greater confidence that the GMD system, if called upon in a real-world scenario, will defend the nation against a limited ballistic missile attack," said Scott Fancher, Boeing vice president and program director for GMD.
The Boeing-led test involved a wide range of assets, including the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX). SBX, a new sea-based sensor developed by Boeing, tracked the target missile to prepare for the next GMD flight test which will see SBX provide target updates to an in-flight interceptor for the first time. "Flight tests are complex; they involve about 1,000 government and contractor personnel and integrate over 50 assets worldwide," said Norm Tew, Boeing director of weapon systems integration for GMD.
GMD is designed to defend the US against a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles, with interceptors deployed in underground silos at Vandenberg and Ft. Greely, Alaska. An integral element of the global ballistic missile defense system, GMD also consists of radars, other sensors, command-and-control facilities, communications terminals and a 20,000-mile fiber optic communications network. The U.S. government has announced plans to extend this capability to Europe.