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midcourse

Ground-Based Midcourse Defense

Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) is a component of the national missile defense strategy of the United States administered by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Previously known as National Missile Defense (NMD), the name was changed in 2002 to differentiate it from other missile defense programs, such as space-based and sea-based intercept programs, and defense targeting the boost phase and the reentry phase (see flight phases).

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is the Prime Contractor of the program, tasked to oversee and integrate systems from other major defense sub-contractors. The key systems of the GMD system are:

Interceptor sites are at Fort Greely (Alaska) and Vandenberg Air Force Base (California); a third will be built at the US missile defense complex in Poland.

A relatively current description of the program can be found in the February, 2007 Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Exhibit R-2 RDT&E Budget Item Justification document.

Flight tests

IFT = integrated flight test
BV = booster verification test

  • IFT-1A (24 June 1997) was intended to allow the program to assess a Boeing built EKV seeker, collect target (10 objects) phenomenological data, and evaluate (post-test) targetmodeling and discrimination algorithms. Boeing was not awarded the EKV contract as a result.
  • IFT-2 (16 Jan 1998) was intended to allow the program to assess a Raytheon built EKV seeker, collect target (10 objects) phenomenological data, and evaluate (post-test) targetmodeling and discrimination algorithms. Raytheon was awarded the EKV contract as a result.
  • IFT-3 (2 Oct 1999) was intended as an element test of the EKV, not an end-to-end system test. The flight resulted in an intercept. At least one failure on the EKV forced the EKV into a backup acquisition mode.
  • IFT-4 (18 Jan 2000) was the first system end-to-end test. The Raytheon built EKV failed to detect the mock warhead. This resulted in a missed intercept. The failure to intercept is directly traceable to the cryogenic cooling system of the EKV, which failed to cool the IR sensors down to their operating temperatures in time because of an obstructed cooling line.
  • IFT-5 (8 Jul 2000) suffered a flight test failure. The Raytheon build EKV did not separate from the boost vehicle, a modified Minuteman ICBM. The failure was caused by a 1553B data bus failure in the booster, Lockheed Martin’s PLV.
  • BV-1 (28 April 2001) Flight test of three-stage Boeing Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload (non-intercept test). Vehicle did not launch; was used as a pathfinder instead.
  • IFT-6 (14 Jul 2001) resulted in a successful intercept. This was the second end-to-end system test using NMD prototype elements.
  • BV-2 (31 Aug 2001) Flight test of three-stage Boeing Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload (non-intercept test). Flight met most of its objectives.
  • IFT-7 (3 Dec 2001) resulted in a successful intercept. This test was a repeat of the IFT-6 test except that the target booster used Orbital’s Target Launch Vehicle instead of Lockheed Martin’s Multi-Service Launch System.
  • BV-3 (13 Dec 2001) Flight test of three-stage Boeing Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload (non-intercept test). Flight was a failure. The BV veered off course 30 seconds after launching and was self-destructed.
  • IFT-8 (15 Mar 2002) resulted in a successful intercept. The EKV was fed the location of the mock warhead to assist in tracking and intercept.
  • BV-4 (2002) Flight test of three-stage Boeing Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload (non-intercept test). Test was canceled.
  • IFT-9 (14 Oct 2002) resulted in a successful intercept. This was the first IFT to use the Aegis SPY-1 radar for GMD. The mock warhead contained a C-band transponder for early flight trajectory and location data.
  • IFT-10 (11 Dec 2002) suffered a flight test failure. The Raytheon-built EKV did not separate from the boost vehicle, a modified Minuteman ICBM. The failure was caused an activator pin which broke and did not activate a laser which was to release the EKV.
  • IFT-11 (Cancelled) Test cancelled along with 9 of 20 tested in the next 5 years to move up deployment scheduled as requested by the president.
  • IFT-12 (Cancelled)
  • IFT-13 (Cancelled)
  • BV-6 (16 Aug 2003) Flight test of three-stage Orbital Sciences Booster Vehicle (OBV) with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload (non-intercept test). BV-6 did not demonstrate functionality between the payload and the booster.
  • IFT-13A (Delayed) Lockheed Martin’s test, IFT-13A, has been indefinitely delayed due to explosions at its rocket fuel mixing plant in the summer and fall of 2003. Right now, MDA is planning on using only the Orbital version in its initial deployment but may use the Lockheed Martin rocket for later deployments.
  • BV-5 (9 Jan 2004) Flight test of three-stage Lockheed Martin (formerly Boeing) Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload (non-intercept test). Problems with 3rd stage circuit board caused delays. Flight was a failure. BV-5 did not demonstrate functionality between the payload and the booster. An apparent power drop prevented the mock EKV from separating from the booster.
  • IFT-13B (26 Jan 2004) was a successful system level test using the new Orbital Sciences booster flying out of the Kwajalein atoll and a fly-by of the target launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
  • IFT-13C (15 Dec 2004) suffered a flight test failure. This test involved an interceptor using the new Orbital Sciences booster flying out of Kwajalein and an attempt to hit a target coming out of Kodiak, Alaska. While the target flew as planned, the booster failed to leave the ground. Failure blamed on a 1553b data bus which is regarded by some as being incapable of processing messages at a rate that is fast enough for the GMD system to work effectively.
  • IFT-14 (13 Feb 2005) suffered a flight test failure. This test involved an interceptor using the new Orbital Sciences booster flying out of Kwajalein and an attempt to hit a target coming out of Kodiak, Alaska. While the target flew as planned, the booster failed to leave the ground due to a fault in the arms which hold the missile in the silo. The arms failed to fully retract and the launch was automatically aborted.
  • IFT-15 (13 Dec 2005) was a successful flight test. The interceptor missile was launched from the Ronald Reagan test site, located on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
  • IFT-16 (01 Sep 2006) was a successful flight test. The interceptor successfully intercepted a target ballistic missile over the Pacific in the widest test in 18 months of the Ground Based Interceptors. The interceptor was launched from Vandenberg AFB, with a threat-representative missile launched from Kodiak Launch Complex. No decoys were used, but the EKV successfully acquired and impacted the 4 foot representative target warhead.
  • Additional GMD IFT events IFT-17 to IFT-30 are scheduled out through Fall of 2008. Those tests are followed by FTG (Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor) tests through the 4th quarter of 2011.

References

External links

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