Boeing has successfully completed flight testing of the US Missile Defence Agency’s (MDA) upgraded ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Carried out by the MDA and industry partners, the test involved a Raytheon-built Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) completing a data-gathering mission.
Boeing Ground-based Midcourse Defense vice-president and programme director Norm Tew said: "The Missile Defense Agency’s test design enabled the collection of critical data to validate key design improvements for the US homeland defence architecture.
"This data will also support future development, such as the work that’s currently underway on the Boeing-led redesigned kill vehicle."
The test launch aimed to evaluate system components, and increase their ability to destroy ballistic missile threats.
The ballistic missile target being launched was designed not to intercept in order to display the system’s manoeuvring and data collection.
The resulting data will be used to evaluate and enhance the EKV’s design for future intercept missions.
Raytheon Missile Systems president Taylor W Lawrence said: "This was a remarkable data-collection opportunity. These are among our industry’s most complex systems.
"Testing is critically important to ensuring the advancement of reliable kill vehicles for the protection of the US homeland."
The GMD uses radars, sensors, command-and-control facilities, communications terminals, and a 2,000-mile fibre-optic communications network to safeguard the US from long-range ballistic missile threats, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Boeing serves as the GMD’s prime contractor, and leads an industry team comprising Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences and Raytheon.