As part of the Defense Department's ongoing robust research and development effort for missile defense, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) will conduct a flight test to include the planned intercept of a long-range ballistic missile target on Saturday, July 14, 2001. The flight test launch window is scheduled for 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. EDT.
The test will involve the launch of a Multi-Service Launch System (MSLS) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The MSLS, a modified Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile, will carry a mock warhead and a single decoy. About 20 minutes after the MSLS is launched, and about 4,800 miles away, a prototype interceptor missile carrying a prototype exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) will launch from the Ronald Reagan Missile Test Facility at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. About 10 minutes later the intercept should take place at an altitude of approximately 140 miles above the central Pacific Ocean during the midcourse phase of the target warhead's flight.
This will be an integrated system test, with all representative system elements participating: space-based missile warning sensor; ground-based early warning radar; the prototype X-Band radar at Kwajalein Atoll; and the battle management, command, control and communications system located at the Joint National Test Facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. Since the system is in its research and development phase, these elements serve as either prototypes or surrogates for system elements which are in the developmental stage and have not yet been produced for actual operational use.
This will be the fourth intercept test of the Midcourse Defense Segment (formerly National Missile Defense) research and development program. The first test on Oct. 3, 1999 resulted in the successful intercept of a ballistic missile target. The second test took place on Jan. 19, 2000 and did not achieve an intercept due to a clogged cooling pipe on the EKV, but did successfully test the integrated system of elements. The third test, on July 8, 2000, did not result in an intercept due to the failure of the EKV to separate from the booster rocket.
More information can be obtained at the BMDO website, http://www.acq.osd.mil/mda/mdalink/html/mdalink.html.
A separate press advisory concerning details for news coverage will be issued next week. News correspondents may call Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, BMDO External Affairs, at (703) 604-3186 or (703) 697-8997.