The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has successfully completed testing of the ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) system at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Known as Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor-15, the flight was conducted to provide the data necessary to assess the performance of the GMD system.
Carried out in collaboration with the US Air Force's 30th Space Wing, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense and Northern Command, the test involved a Raytheon-built exo-atmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) that successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) target for the first time.
The EKV identified the threat after receiving tracking and targeting data from sea and space-based sensors. It manoeuvred into the target's path and destroyed it using ‘hit-to-kill’ technology, Raytheon stated.
The ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Orbital ATK supplied the ICBM target rocket for the MDA testing, whcih was supported by Raytheon's sea-based X-band radar (SBX) and AN/TPY-2 radar.
Raytheon Missile Systems president Taylor W. Lawrence said: "This test keeps the United States on track to increase its ground-based interceptor inventory to 44 in 2017.
"The system is among our industry's most complex, and its advancement ensures the protection of the US and its allies."
The Boeing-built GMD element of the US ballistic missile defence system is said to provide combatant commanders the capability to engage and destroy intermediate and long-range ballistic missile threats.
The MDA said it is committed to develop and deploy a layered ballistic missile defence system to defend the US, its deployed forces and allies from limited ballistic missile attacks of all ranges in every flight phase.
Image: The ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. Photo: courtesy of US Missile Defense Agency.