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Saturday, 06 December 2008 21:07

Pentagon blasts mock missile with Ground-Based Interceptor

On December 5, 2008, the Missile Defense Agency, within the U.S. Pentagon, announced that its interceptor missile destroyed a target missile meant to simulate a North Korean attack, calling it “the largest, most complex test … ever done.”

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) shot down a simulated enemy missile with its Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) missile.

The head of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) called the simulation “the largest, most complex test we have ever done.” [Fox News: “Pentagon Downs Missile in Simulated Attack to Test Proposed Shield”]

The silo-launched Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) missile, whose design and manufacture is coordinated by defense contractor The Boeing Company, is a weapon component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

It is part of the larger U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The GBI consists of a multi-stage rocket orbital booster vehicle (OBV), built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, and an infrared-seeking exoatmospheric (kinetic) kill vehicle (EKV), built by Raytheon.

The system is intended to intercept ballistic missile warheads, such as those that might be launched by Iran or North Korea, within the exoatmosphere of Earth (the atmosphere above 75 miles [120 kilometers] above the Earth’s surface)

The test was designated as Flight Test Ground-based Midcourse Defense-05 (FTG-05). The FTG-05 consisted of a simulated attack to test the abilities of the U.S. defense shield from long-range ballistic missiles originating in countries that might attack in the future, such as North Korea.

Read page two for details of the launching of the target missile, and then the interceptor missile.

The threat-representative target missile was launched from Kodiak Alaska at 3:04 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The long-range ballistic target was tracked by numerous sea- and land-based radar systems.

The systems included an Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance-2 (AN/TPY-2) system in Juneau, Alaska, a U.S. Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) ship with SPY-1 radar, an Upgraded Early Warning Radar (EWR) at Beale Air Force Base (California), and a Sea-Based X-band radar system.

The information was then sent to the interceptor missile.

At 3:23 p.m. EST, the GBI was launched from the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California.

The GBI flew downrange over the Pacific Ocean.

The EKV vehicle was then launched into the target’s predicted trajectory in space. It maneuvered to the target and intercepted the “threat warhead” at about 3:30 p.m. EST.

Page three contains comments of the test, along with additional information on the U.S. defense program.

Lt. General Pataraick O-Reilly, MDA leader, stated, “It was the largest, most complex test we have ever done.” [Fox News]

It is reported that the test cost between $120 to $150 million.

The Orbital Sciences Corporation press release (“Orbital's OBV Rocket Successfully Launched for Missile Defense Interceptor System Test”) stated, “Following a preliminary post-flight analysis of the data collected from the mission, MDA and the GMD team confirmed that all primary OBV objectives for FTG-05 were achieved.”

And, “These included pre-launch built-in test functionality, launch and flyout of the OBV, accurate delivery of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) payload and acquisition of telemetry data for further characterization of the OBV’s flight characteristics.”

The MDA press release (pdf file) (“Missile Defense Flight Test Results in Successful Intercept”) stated, “The flight test results will help to further refine the performance of numerous Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) elements able to provide a defense against the type of long-range ballistic missile that could be used to attack the nation with a weapon of mass destruction.”

For more information, please visit the Boeing website “Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) System.”

An overview of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System appears on the MDA website “Missile Defense Worldwide” (pdf file).

Page four contains an excerpt from the Air Force article "Missile defense site named after President Reagan."

The Air Force article "Missile defense site named after President Reagan" stated the following.

General Obering, during the dedication ceremony for the Ronald W. Reagen Missile Defense Site, stated, “President Reagan simply would not accept U.S. vulnerability to nuclear or ballistic missile attack. And so he called upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens continued the remarks about President Reagan, “We are here today to celebrate the remarkable achievement of Ronald Reagan who will be remembered and revered for many things.  But if you (could) ask him, I think he would tell you his greatest achievement was to safeguard the freedom and safeguard the people of the United States."

General Obering continued, “Those of us who have spent time in the intercontinental ballistic missile business hold President Reagan in especially high regard. His leadership at the height of the Cold War was the turning point toward achieving victory in that titanic struggle for peace and freedom. President Reagan was the driving force behind the deployment of the Peacekeeper missile in the 1980s …The mission of the Peacekeeper and the vision of President Reagan (were) achieved without ever firing a shot in anger.”

He added, “Today, our nation has a limited, but real defensive capability against short, medium and long-range ballistic missiles. That reality is borne out by the long-term interceptors in the silos here and in Alaska, the Aegis ships with their sea-based interceptors, the powerful radars which we have brought online, and the professionally trained and certified crews manning the command and control consoles in Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado and Nebraska.”

The ceremony concluded with President Reagan’s own words: "Wouldn’t it be better to save lives than avenge them? Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all of our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability? I think we are indeed. Indeed, we must.”

In summary: "A strong defense for a lasting peace."

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