Boeing and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have conducted flight tests of the ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) system’s advanced interceptor capability.

During the event, a ground-based interceptor (GBI) containing a Raytheon-designed mock-up of the EKV’s mass launched into space and showcased safe kill vehicle ejection.

According to MDA, this new capability is known as a 2-/3-Stage selectable GBI.

The test proved GBI’s ability to reach space using a three-stage booster in two-stage mode.

This allowed the GBI to release the exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) earlier in flight, providing a chance to intercept and destroy an incoming missile threat.

MDA director vice-admiral Jon Hill said: “This was the first flight test of the new selectable stage booster configuration in two-stage mode.

“The system worked exactly as it was designed to do, and the results of this test provide evidence of the greatly increased battlespace the selectable booster brings to the warfighter.”

The latest test validates the modernisation of GBI from a wide array of threats such as long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Boeing GMD vice-president and programme director Debbie Barnett said: “The GMD system is reliable and ready if called upon to defend the nation.

“For more than 20 years, Boeing has led the development, integration and maintenance of this system.

“We’re proud to continue these efforts for the fielded GMD system to ensure the continued defence of the United States for years to come.”

GMD is an element of the MDA’s ballistic missile defence (BMD) system.

It can engage and destroy ‘rogue-state’ long-range ballistic missile threats, safeguarding the US throughout the year.

The industry team for GMD systems engineering, development, integration, testing, operations and sustainment activities of the fielded system is led by Boeing.

Since 1998, the company has been serving as the prime contractor for the GMD system.

In January 2016, Boeing completed flight testing of the MDA’s upgraded GMD system at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.