Boeing has successfully conducted non-intercept flight testing of the US Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) system with a new exo-atmospheric kill vehicle (EKA) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.
Carried out with MDA and industry partners, the testing also designated GMD control test vehicle (GM CTV)-01 and forms part of a comprehensive evaluation programme.
The programme began after flight-testing of the ground-based interceptor (FTG)-06a ended in failure due to a guidance error in December 2010.
Deployed by a three-stage ground-based interceptor (GBI) to a designated point in space, the upgraded Raytheon-built EKV carried out a series of pre-planned manoeuvres to gather performance data during the testing, which marks the first step in returning GMD to successful intercept tests.
Boeing Strategic Missile and Defense Systems vice president and general manager Greg Hyslop said the testing was a result of successful collaboration between government, military and industry.
"Throughout our team effort to solve one of the toughest challenges facing the aerospace industry, GMD remained on alert and continues to defend the United States," Hyslop added.
Boeing vice president and GMD programme director Norm Tew said: "We have used industry and government's combined expertise to solve a complex technical issue related to what the interceptor's exo-atmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) experiences in space."
Testing did not include a target missile launch and the resulting data will be used to evaluate the EKV's design and also enhance readiness for future intercept missions.
The GMD uses radars and 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 GMD prime contractor and leads an industry team comprising Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences and Raytheon.
Image: The ground-based interceptor lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Photo: courtesy of MDA.