Interceptor Scores Another Bulls-eye
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2001 The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization scored another bull's-eye Dec. 3 in a test of the "kill vehicle," officials announced.
Unlike previous tests, this was not surrounded by a lot of press hoopla. "There was nothing special about it this time," said Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, a spokesman for BMDO. "We have an aggressive testing program and we will take the information we get from this test and apply in our future tests."
This was the third successful intercept in five tests of the system. This test integrated flight test-7 was identical to a previous test in July.
In the test, BMDO launched a modified Minuteman ICBM as a target from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 9:59 p.m. Eastern Time. The launch was supposed to go at 9 p.m., but it was delayed by weather.
About 20 minutes after the launch from California, officials launched an interceptor with the exoatmospheric kill vehicle aboard from the Ronald Reagan Missile Range at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.
The kill vehicle separated from its rocket booster more than 1,400 miles from the target warhead. After separation, the vehicle used on-board infrared and visual sensors to locate and track the target. The sensors were augmented by X-Band radar data from the Battle Management Command, Control and Communications facilities in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Kwajalein. The sensors were able to distinguish between the target, the shroud enclosing the missile, and a decoy deployed in the test.
The interceptor hit the target more than 140 miles above the Earth during the midcourse phase of the warhead's flight. The closing speeds for the hit-to-kill intercept was "in excess of 15,000 miles per hour." Lehner said a flash marked the intercept.
Another intercept system test is set for February or March. The BMDO has other tests scheduled for the intercept booster later this month. BMDO "has 12 missile defense programs and we will conduct any number of tests in the future," Lehner said.
DoD officials said the test was just one in a continuing regime "to achieve a layered approach to missile defense, using different architectures to deter the growing threat of ballistic missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction."