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Missile Defense Agency Successfully Tests Newest Target Launcher

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2009 – Missile Defense Agency officials announced the newest addition to the agency’s “flexible target family” today after a successful rocket motor test yesterday at the China Lake Naval Warfare Center in Ridgecrest, Calif.

The agency successfully completed a static-fire testing of the two-stage launch vehicle, known as the LV-2. It was integrated from former Navy Trident C4 rocket motors to imitate a long-range, intercontinental ballistic missile threat, Defense Missile Agency spokesman Rick Lehner told American Forces Press during a phone interview today.

“What we’re trying to do, and what we have done, is develop different types of interceptors for different types of missiles based upon their range,” Lehner explained, noting that the United States has proven interceptor missiles to use against short, medium, intermediate and long-range enemy missiles.

“What we have to do is develop target missiles that we would use in tests that would tell us what we think we may see from the enemy,” he said.

In a statement released today, officials noted that the Missile Defense Agency has an array of target weaponry that emulates various measures of ballistic missile threats with a broad range of performance, characteristics and features to be used to test the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The LV-2 replicates a long-range missile of the same type of technology that might be launched from North Korea or Iran, Lehner said.

“It’s a new initiative by the Missile Defense Agency to develop this new generation of target missiles to make them more reliable, to make them better replicate what we think our threat missile will look like,” he said. “You test your interceptors by what you think you will encounter during an actual war or attack.”

The LV-2’s test yesterday is the first, with one or two more to follow, Lehner said. Its first flight is planned for late spring or early summer as part of a larger-scale Ballistic Missile Defense System test, he added.

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