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Missile Defense's 'Sweet Spot' of Success

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2001 – The test of the ground-based ballistic missile defense system July 14 was almost a complete success, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization officials said Aug. 9.

The exoatmospheric kill vehicle landed a knockout punch on the re-entry vehicle hitting the "sweet spot" almost squarely, said Army Maj. Gen. Willie B. Nance Jr., the program executive officer for the project.

The intercept occurred about a foot and a half behind the nose of the re-entry vehicle, Nance said.

"The largest piece of debris that we saw, based on all the radar tracks and data that we had, was about a six-inch size piece of debris in any dimension. And that's debris that's left over from the kill vehicle and the reentry vehicle after the intercept," he said.

Of the 23 items tested in the flight, only one did not work. "The system and the elements performed for the most part as expected," he said. "We did have one anomaly, ... the ground-based radar prototype, which is a prototype of the X- band radar. It is located at Kwajalein missile range. ...

"The last objective that we wanted it to perform was to switch its track from the re-entry vehicle to the kill vehicle and report if it could hit, and so conduct as an objective its ability to perform hit assessment. It did not successfully do that. And it was a software issue. We have determined the cause of that problem."

About a minute before intercept, a database locked up when the software wouldn't permit testers to enter and delete a single-track file in the same cycle.

"We've already made the adjustment and we're ground-testing that," Nance said. The next test is set for October and BMDO plans to fly the same test in terms of the target, target complex and the structure of the elements in the test flown in July. Each test costs about $83 million, Nance said.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Briefing: Maj. Gen. Willie Nance Provides Update on Missile Test, Aug. 9, 2001
DoD Briefing Slides, Aug. 9, 2001

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