Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Boeing-led Team Intercepts Target

Boeing Company News Release

2008 December 5

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], working with industry teammates and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, today completed the successful intercept of a target warhead in the most challenging test to date of the United States' only long-range ballistic missile defense system.

"This test demonstrated that the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system can defeat a long-range ballistic missile target," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "This intercept is further proof that GMD can provide our nation with an effective defense against the threat of long-range ballistic missiles."

The GMD system test began at 3:04 p.m. Eastern time when a long-range ballistic missile target lifted off from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. Military operators launched an interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base to intercept this threat-representative target.

As the interceptor flew toward the target, it received target data updates from the GMD fire control system, which collected and combined data from four different sensors, the most ever for an intercept test. The sensors were the Aegis Long Range Surveillance and Track system in the Pacific; the AN/TPY-2 radar temporarily located in Juneau, Alaska; the Upgraded Early Warning Radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.; and the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) in the Pacific. After flying into space, the interceptor released its exoatmospheric kill vehicle, which tracked, intercepted and destroyed the target warhead. This end-to-end test of the GMD system was the most realistic and comprehensive to date.

"Data gathered from multiple sensors gave us a clearer picture of the incoming threat, enabling GMD to achieve the shootdown of a complex target," said Greg Hyslop, Boeing vice president and GMD program director. "Integrating sensors separated by thousands of miles is a major engineering challenge, but we overcame this challenge by working together as a team."

"This test was an important milestone for the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a powerful, mobile sensor developed by Boeing," said Norm Tew, Boeing's chief engineer for GMD. "This was the first intercept test in which data from SBX was combined with data from the other sensors to provide tracking data and guidance aimpoint updates to the interceptor."

The test, GMD's eighth intercept overall, was the third intercept since September 2006 using an interceptor with the same design and capabilities as those protecting the United States.

GMD defends the United States against a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles, with interceptors deployed in underground silos at Vandenberg and Fort Greely, Alaska. An integral element of the global ballistic missile defense system, GMD also consists of radars, other sensors, command-and-control facilities, communications terminals and a 20,000-mile fiber optic communications network. The U.S. government has signed agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland to extend this capability to Europe.

Boeing is the prime contractor for GMD, the central element of the Missile Defense Agency's overall layered ballistic missile defense architecture. Industry partners include Raytheon, Orbital Sciences Corp., and Northrop Grumman. The program has more than 400 industry partners and suppliers in 36 states. Boeing, through its work on GMD, contributed more than $700 million to Alabama's economy in 2007 and supported nearly 5,600 direct and indirect jobs, according to a recent University of Alabama study.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32.1 billion business with 71,000 employees worldwide.

This story was originally titled "Boeing-led Missile Defense Team Intercepts Target in Most Complex Test to Date".

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