Next Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD) Intercept Test Could Be as soon as June 22. (June 6, 2014)

It appears that the next intercept test for the Ground-Based Midcourse national missile defense system is planned for Sunday, June 22 between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm U.S. east coast time. The target will be launched from Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and the interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California

On Wednesday (June 4), Reuters cited two anonymous sources that the test, designated FTG-06b, would be held on June 22.[1]

However, today (June 6), the Pacific Islands News Association reported that, according to a warning issued by the U.S. Army, the planned test time was Monday June 23 between 4:00 am and 8:00 pm. The backup dates are June 24 and 25.

These two announced dates are not inconsistent because the of the 19 hour time difference between California and Kwajalein. Thus 4:00 am to 8:00 am on the 23rd at Kwajalein corresponds to 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on the 22nd in California. MDA usually specifies the date and time of a test using the time zone of the interceptor launch location. On the other hand, the U.S. Army warning was presumably intended for the local population near the target launch location, and thus likely uses Kwajalein time.

Thus from a U.S east coast perspective, the planned interceptor launch time is Sunday June 22 between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.

This test is the third intercept test of the new CE-II version of the GBI interceptor’s kill vehicle. The previous two CE-II intercept tests failed, although a successful flight test not using a target was successfully conducted about a year ago.

If this upcoming test is successful, MDA will likely be able to almost immediately resume production of the 14 additional GBI interceptors it plans to deploy in Alaska by the end of 2017. A failure, depending on its cause, would likely impose significant delays on any future deployments of CE-II interceptors and may make the end of 2017 deadline impossible to achieve. It is now over 41 months since the most recent CE-II intercept test attempt, which failed.

[1] Andrea Shalal, “U.S. Missile Defense Test Could Shift Timing to Add Interceptors,” Reuters.Com, June 4, 2014

First Test Launch for Aegis Ashore (May 21, 2014)

The Missile Defense Agency announced today that it had conducted its first test launch of an Aegis SM-3 missile defense interceptor from an Aegis Ashore facility similar to the one planned to be operational in Romania by the end of next year. The test, using an SM-3 Block IB version of the interceptor, was conducted at the newly completed Aegis Ashore test facility in Hawaii and was described as successful. No target missile was used, and thus there was no intercept attempt.

 

 

GAO on DoD’s GMD Testing Options Report (May 1, 2014)

 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) yesterday (April 30, 2014) released a Report assessing a Department of Defense (DoD) Report on options for the test program of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) national missile defense system. Specifically, the DoD Report, mandated in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013, was required to:

(1) Explain GMD testing options if the forthcoming FTG-06b intercept test did not successfully demonstrate that the problem that caused the failure of the new CE-II kill vehicle in the FTG-06a test has been resolved; and

(2) Assess the feasibility, advisability, and cost effectiveness of accelerating the pace of GMD test flights.

The DoD Report was released to Congress on October 18, 2013, but does not yet appear to be publicly available (at least I haven’t seen it). Yesterday’s GAO Report is based on a briefing given by GAO to Congress on December 16, 2013.

 

Background

Before discussing the GAO’s findings, some background information:

The GMD interceptors, thirty which are based in silos in Alaska and California, use two different versions of the Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). The original Capability Enhancement 1 (CE-I) version of the EKV was flight tested five times from 2005 to 2010, three of which were intercept tests, and all of these tests were reportedly successful. However, the CE-I EKV design was not sustainable, and thus the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) began in 2004-2005 to develop a new CE-II EKV.

CE-II interceptors began deployment in 2008, and currently make up about ten of the thirty deployed interceptors. However, the CE-II interceptor was not flight tested until 2010, when two intercept tests failed. The failure of first CE-II intercept test (FTG-06) in January 2010 was subsequently assessed as being due to a quality control failure in assembling the EKV, a relatively easily correctable problem. However, the second failure, FTG-06a in December 2010, posed a much more serious problem, since it was eventually determined to be due a design flaw in the kill vehicle. Specifically, the problem was attributed to excessive vibrations in the kill vehicle’s inertial measurement unit caused by the kill vehicle’s divert rocket motors, which are used to steer the kill vehicle towards its target.

As a result of the FTG-06a failure, deliveries of CE-II interceptors were suspended until a solution to this problem was demonstrated through a successful CE-II intercept test. In addition particular, deliveries of the fourteen additional interceptors announced in March 2013 cannot begin until after such a successful CE-II intercept test. Determining the cause of and developing a fix for the FTG-06a problem has been complex and difficult, and this problem has so far delayed successfully demonstrating a CE-II capability by more than three years and significantly increased the cost of doing so.[1] In January 2014, MDA conducted a successful flight (not intercept) test of CE-II interceptor with mitigations for the FTG-06a problem and could conduct a CE-II intercept test (FTG-06b) as early as the third quarter of FY 2014.

However, the CE-II testing situation is further complicated by the failure of the FTG-07 intercept test in July 2013. This test, using a CE-I interceptor, was intended to test the many changes that have been made to the CE-I kill vehicles since they have been deployed. Although the failure review for this test is still ongoing, the failure has been traced to the CE-I kill vehicle’s battery system.[2] Because the battery system is the same in both the CE-I and CE-II kill vehicles, it is possible that FTG-06b will be further delayed until this problem is fully resolved.

Overall, since MDA began flight testing operationally-configured GMD interceptors in 2005, it has conducted ten GMD flight tests, seven of which involved an intercept attempt. Thus the GMD system has been averaging about 1 GMD flight test per year but only about 0.7 intercept tests per year. Some in Congress have been urging MDA to increase this rate of testing, and, in particular, to increase to it to an average pace of 3 flight tests every two years. As discussed in my post of December 24, 2012, MDA has been opposed to increasing the pace of flight tests beyond the current average of one per year.

 

What did the GAO conclude?

(1) The GAO Report states that the DOD Report provides “limited insight on potential testing options” if the upcoming FTG-06b CE-II intercept test fails. The GAO Report noted that DoD Report presented only one alternative testing option – the development of new divert thrusters that produce less vibration. (By attempting to reduce the vibrations at their source, this approach is complimentary to the one being taken in the FTG-06b test, which instead attempts to isolate the inertial measurement unit from the vibrations). While the GAO characterizes this option as “reasonable,” it states the DoD Report provides few details on how or when such new divert thrusters could be developed and tested, on the cost, benefits and risks of this option, or of its impact on both currently deployed and future production interceptors.

The GAO also noted that prior to the failure of the FTG-07 CE-I test in July 2013, DoD also had testing options involving CE-I interceptors available to address the CE-II test failures. However, the GAO stated the FTG-07 failure precluded MDA from employing these options until the root cause of that failure is both identified and resolved.

(2) It has previously been reported that the DoD Report had concluded that an increase in GMD flight test pacing to three tests every two years was not feasible. (See my post of February 13, 2014.) The GAO Report provides more details on this issue. Specifically it states that the DoD Report says that “With additional funding, it should be possible to accelerate GMD’s testing pace to three flight tests every two years beginning in fiscal year 2018.” However, the GAO Report then goes on to state that it defines “feasibility” as “the extent to which something is both possible and likely to occur,” and that it judges that it is ”not likely” that the pace of testing could be accelerated. According the GAO, the DoD Report also provides no information on either the advisability or cost effectiveness of accelerating the testing pace. (However, it is clear from previous statements by MDA and DoD officials that they do not regard an acceleration of testing as either advisable or cost effective – see my post of December 24, 2012).

 

[1] The GAO Report states that the total cost of conducting a successful CE-II intercept test had now risen from $1.17 billion (as of August 2012) to $1.31 billion (as of June 2013), primarily due to increased failure review costs. Prior to the failure of FTG-06 in January 2010, this cost had been expected to be about $236 million.

[2] John Liang, “DoD: Faulty Battery Caused July 2013 GMD Intercept Failure,” Inside the Pentagon, April 3, 2014.

First Deployment of SM-3 Block IB Interceptors (April 29, 2014)

The United States has begun deployment of the its new SM-3 IB ballistic missile interceptor on U.S. Navy ships, according to an April 23 press release by Raytheon, the missile’s manufacturer.

The SM-3 Block IB interceptor uses the same propulsion system and missile airframe as the currently deployed Block IA version, but has a new kill vehicle with an enhanced infrared seeker, a faster processor and an improved divert and attitude control system. It has a two-color infrared sensor in its seeker (the sensor in the Block IA version uses only a single color) intended to provide increased discrimination capabilities. The new seeker also has improved sensitivity, giving it a greater detection range, and thus allowing engagement of longer-range targets.   In addition, the Block IB kill vehicle also has a new, faster Advanced Signal Processor that “increases data processing capability to sort-out and analyze the information gathered by the upgraded seeker.”[1]

The Block IB kill vehicle also has a new, “more flexible” throttleable divert and attitude control system (TDACS), which improves its divert capabilities.[2] According to reports, the TDACS is able “to dynamically vary its thrust and operating time” and provides higher thrust levels using continuous thrust management to give a greater divert capability than does Block IA kill vehicle.[3]

Although the Raytheon press release did not state which ship(s) the new interceptors were being deployed on, it did describe the deployment as “initiating the second phase of the Phased Adaptive Approach,” suggesting that at least some of them were on forward-deployed Aegis BMD ships in the Mediterranean or even on European-based ships. At present, the U.S Navy only has one Aegis BMD ship based in Europe, the destroyer Donald Cook, which is homeported at Rota, Spain. The number of U.S. Aegis BMD ships based at Rota is planned to increase to four by the end of 2015. (For comparison, there are already five U.S. Aegis BMD ships homeported at Yokusuka in Japan and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced earlier this month that this number would be increased to seven by the end of 2017.)

 

[1] MDA, “FTM-18 Fact Sheet” June 22, 2012. Available at: http://www.mda.mil/global/documents/pdf/Aegis_FTM-18_FactSheet.pdf

[2] MDA, “Second-Generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test,” News Release, May 9, 2012.

[3] Zachary M. Peterson, “Raytheon, ATK Hope To Start Advanced SDACS Flight Tests This Year,” Inside Missile Defense, August 30, 2006; “Raytheon and Aerojet demonstrate SM-3 Throttling Divert and Attitude Control System,” PR Newswire US, August 15, 2006.

RAND Report on Countermeasures Proliferation (February 28, 2014)

RAND has just released a report on ballistic missile countermeasure technologies.  The Report: “Penaid Nonproliferation: Hindering the Spread of Countermeasures Against Ballistic Missile Defenses” by Richard H Speier, K. Scott McMahon, and George Macouziis is primarily about using the Missile Technology Control Regime to attempt to limit the spread of countermeasures technology, it also has a number of interesting figures illustrating countermeasures approaches. The Report is available at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR378.html.

When Is a Missile Defense “Hit” a “Kill”? MDA Says It’s Classified. (February 14, 2014)

The full transcript of the House Armed Services Committee’s May 8, 2013 hearing on ballistic missile defenses was posted by the Government Printing Office this week.  The responses to written questions from the Committee members contain some interesting new (to me, at least) information:

(1) The distinction between a “hit” and a “kill” now seems to be classified, at least for the Ground-Based Midcourse System’s GBI hit-to-kill interceptors.  (For background on this point, including the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s assessment that he scored the successful FTG-02 intercept test as a ‘hit” but not a “kill”, see my post of October 18, 2012.)  From the transcript, here are questions to MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring:

Mr. COOPER. 16) In tests of the GBI, is a ‘‘hit’’ considered a ‘‘kill’’? Are there any successful intercept tests where a hit would have not equated to a kill of the target?  How do these assumptions impact the reliability of the GMD system?

 Admiral SYRING. [The information referred to is classified and retained in the committee files.]

 

(2) Some other things that are now apparently classified:

            (a) Whether or not Aegis SM-3 Block IA and IB interceptors deployed on U.S. territory could intercept missiles from Iran. (p. 81) (Comment: MDA has not never stated (as far as I know) that the Block I interceptors were effective against ICBMs, although one has been used to shoot down a satellite.)

            (b) Whether or not Aegis ships or Aegis Ashore are being considered for defense of the U.S. East Coast. (pp. 83 and 84) (Comment: MDA has previously said that all options were under consideration.)

            (c) How the number (fourteen) of additional GBI interceptors to be deployed by 2017 was determined. (p. 83)  (Comment: Probably the fact that there were fourteen additional silos available had something to do with the decision.)

(3) The MDA is developing a new, upgraded version of the CE-II GBI, to be called the CE-II Block I GBI.  (Its full name is apparently “Common Booster Avionics and Obsolescence Design (CBAU/CE-II Block I”).  It is currently scheduled for a first intercept test in FY 2016 and the fourteen additional GBIs announced in March 2013 will be of this type. (p. 87).   (Correction, February 17: changed this point to reflect that the 14 new Block I GBIs will not be the ones deployed by FY 2017 but instead the ones purchased beginning in 2016, and removed point about “fly before you buy”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

(4) The 1999 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) statement that: “We assess that countries developing ballistic missiles,” including North Korea and Iran, “would also develop various responses to U.S. theater and national defenses … by the time they flight test their missiles,” is also MDA’s current assessment of the missile threat. This was confirmed by Madelyn Creedon, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, by MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring, and by Michael Gilmore, the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. (pp. 83-84, 85-86, 88)

           

Department of Defense Says No to Increased GMD Testing (February 13, 2014)

As discussed in my post of December 24, 2012, the FY 2013 Defense Authorization Act required the Department of Defense (DoD)  to provide a report to Congress on testing of the Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) national missile defense system.  Specifically the report was to assess “the feasibility, advisability, and cost-effectiveness of accelerating the date for testing the GMD system against an ICBM-range target, and of conducting GMD flight tests at a pace of three tests every 2 years.”

Yesterday, Inside Defense SITREP reported that DoD’s response, which was delivered to Congress last fall but has not been publicly released, said that neither increase in the pace of testing was feasible.[1]  As I noted in my December 24 post, such a response was to be expected given previous statements by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E). 

However, if anything, it now appears possible that the test against an ICBM target may actually be further delayed rather than accelerated.    For the last several years, MDA and DOT&E have been saying that the first GMD intercept of an ICBM target would take place in fiscal year 2015 (specifically in the 3rd quarter of calendar year 2015).  Now, according to MDA spokesman Richard Lehner, the plan is for “a flight test against an ICBM target in the 2015-2016 time frame when an appropriate ICBM target becomes available.”[2]

The report to Congress also repeated MDA’s argument (again see my post of December 24, 2012) that a GMD test pace of more than one test per year was not feasible because of the complexity of the tests.  (In comparison, in 2013 the MDA conducted five successful intercept tests of exo-atmospheric SM-3 Aegis BMD interceptors in less than eight months – from February 12 to October 3.)


[1] Jason Sherman, “DOD To Congress: MDA Has No Plans To Accelerate Pace of GMD Testing,” Inside Defense SITREP, February 12, 2014.

[2]Sherman, “DOD To Congress.”

How Much Radar for $1 Billion? (February 7, 2014)

According to a recent news report, the United States plans to spend nearly $1 billion dollars on a new missile defense radar in Alaska.[1]  This radar is intended to increase the discrimination capability of the current U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) national missile defense system.  Although no details on the radar have been publicly released, it will certainly be some sort of X-band phased-array radar (“X-band” indicates an operating frequency of about 10 GHz).  So how much X-band radar can you get for a billion dollars?  And does this price tell us anything about the likely nature of the radar?  As will be seen below, there are at least several possibilities

A TPY-2 X-band radar.

The U.S. currently has eight TPY-2 X-band radars, with four more under construction.  These air-transportable radars are relatively inexpensive, costing about $180-200 million each including supporting equipment. However, these radars are far too small (in terms of the power and antenna aperture) for the GMD discrimination mission.

 tpy2

A TPY-2 radar and supporting equipment.  (Image source: MDA)

 

A“Stacked” TPY-2 radar

A 2012 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report called for deploying five “stacked” TPY-2 radars at five sites (including one in Alaska) as GMD discrimination radars.    These radars would use two TPY-2 antennas, stacked one on top of the other on a turntable, giving an eight-fold increase in the radar’s power-aperture-gain (an appropriate figure of merit for a discrimination radar) relative to a TPY-2 radar.  According to the NAS Report, once developed, such a radar would cost about $320 million each to build in batch of five.[2]  The NAS puts the cost of developing the radar at $0.8-1.0 billion.  Thus the cost of developing and deploying just one stacked radar would be about $1.1-1.3 billion.  The Department of Defense’s estimated cost of a stacked TPY-2 is “at least $500 million (see next paragraph), so this option would seem to be possible for the “nearly $1 billion” figure cited for the proposed new radar.

However, the MDA does not seem to be favorably inclined to the stacked TPY-2 proposal.  A February 2013 Department of Defense report to Congress concludes that: “The cost to build a stacked AN/TPY-2 radar array would be at least $500 million.  Alternative concepts would provide a more robust capability for less cost.”[3]  Moreover, while the range of such a stacked radar would be much greater than that of a TPY-2 radar, it would be significantly less than other X-band radar options.

 

An Upgraded GBR-P

A third option would be to take the existing Ground-Based Radar – Prototype (GBR-P) X-band radar at the U.S. test range on Kwajalein Atoll and move it to Alaska, probably with some significant upgrades.  This radar is no longer being used for testing and the Congressional Budget Office has estimated the total cost of upgrading and moving the radar (to the U.S. East Coast) to be $510 million. (See my post of August 6, 2013).   The GBR-P was designed to be upgradeable, and under the George W. Bush Administration’s now-cancelled European Missile Defense plan, it would have been moved to the Czech Republic and renamed the European Midcourse Radar.  Depending on the extent of the upgrades (see my post of June 11, 2013), this radar could have a significantly greater range than a stacked TPY-2.  However, it would also have a very limited electronic field of view, which could limit its capability to deal with attacks by multiple missiles.  In addition, it is likely that the MDA will want to deploy at least one more large X-band radar (for example, on the East Coast) and there is only one GBR-P (although, as discussed next, the SBX could also be redeployed).

 gbrp

The GBR-P under construction (Image source: http://www.boeing.com/boeing/companyoffices/gallery/images/space/gmd/973897.page)

A Land-Based SBX

A fourth option would be to build another Sea-Based X-band (SBX) radar, but to place it on land rather than on a ship.  The SBX is generally described as costing about $0.9-1.0 billion.  However, roughly $250 million of this cost was for the modified ocean-going oil drilling platform it is deployed on.  Thus it seems at least possible that a land-based version of the SBX could be built for about $1 billion, even though the SBX was built for test purposes, and some additional costs would likely be involved in building it to operational standards of reliability and survivability.  This option would give greater range than any of the other options above, but like the upgraded GBR-P, it would have a limited electronic field of view.  Alternatively, the SBX itself could be removed from its ocean-going platform, upgraded, and redeployed on land.  (The NAS Report called for moving the SBX ashore, although it proposed placing the radar on Adak Island in the Aleutians rather than the new radar’s likely central Alaska location.)

 sbx

The SBX radar under construction. (Image source: MDA)

 

Or Some Other Option

Other possibilities exist.  The new Cobra Judy radar ship has an X-band phased array radar with an aperture similar to that of the GBR-P.  However, no details about this radar’s other characteristics or cost appear to be publicly available.  Or MDA could choose an entirely new radar design, although this would seem likely to cost substantially more than $1 billion.

 cjr 

The new Cobra Judy radar ship, with its S-band and X-band radar antennas.  (Image source: http://www.riversideresearch.org/coe/radar)

 

 


[1] Andrea Shalal-Esa, “Exclusive: Pentagon to Boost Missile Defense Funding by over $4 Billion: Sources,” www.reuters.com, February 7, 2014.

[2] NAS Report, p. 274.

[3] Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, “Stacked AN/TPY-2 Array Concept Report to Congress,” February 2013.

The FY 2013 DOT&E Report and the GMD System. What does “demonstrated capability” mean? (January 29, 2013)

The FY 2013 Annual Report from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation is now available. Its short (two pages) section on the Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) national missile defense system has already gained notice for its recommendation that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) should consider re-designing the exo-atmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) of the GMD interceptor.[1]  Although this might seem like a harsh criticism, it is probably consistent with what the MDA was already planning to do anyway (more on this in a future post).

What most caught my attention about the GMD section of the report was, first, the claim that the GMD system had a demonstrated  capability against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and, second, that the January 2013 CTV-01 GMD flight test might not be the complete success it has been portrayed as:

(1) The first bullet point in the GMD section of the 2013 Report states that the “Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) has demonstrated a partial capability to defend the U.S. Homeland from small numbers of simple intermediate or intercontinental ballistic missile threats launched from North Korea or Iran.”

In standard usage, at least in a missile defense context, the word “demonstrated” means that a capability has been shown to work in an actual successful intercept test.  Indeed the word is used in precisely this way in several other parts of the GMD section of the 2013 DOT&E Report. 

However, as is well known, the operational GMD system has never been tested against an ICBM-range target, nor against more than one target at a time.  So how has the GMD system’s effectiveness been “demonstrated” against either ICBMs or against “small numbers” of missiles of any range?  (Unless one reads the word “partial” to mean not against ICBMs and not against more than one missile

Two years ago, the 2011 DOT&E Report contained the more specific assessment that “Ground test results suggest that the GMD system provides a limited capability for the defense of the U.S. Homeland against emerging intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missile threats.” 

Given that there has been no successful intercept test (only two failures) of the GMD system since that 2011 assessment, it is hard to see how the GMD system has progressed from a capability “suggested by ground tests” to a “demonstrated” capability.  This contradiction is highlighted by the second bullet point in the 2013 GMD section, which states that: “The performance of GMD during flight tests in FY13 prevented any improvement in the assessment of GMD capability.”

(2) The Report contains the first public indication (at least that I am aware of) that CTV-01 test of January 2013 was not an unqualified success.  CTV-01 test was a non-intercept test intended to show that the problem that caused the failure of the exo-atmospheric kill vehicle in the previous intercept test, FTG-06a in December 2010, had been correctly identified.  All previous public discussions of the test seemed to indicate that CTV-01 was complete success.  For example, in his prepared statement to the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 17, 2013, MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring stated that: “The successful non-intercept controlled flight test of the next generation CE-II GBI earlier this year (CTV-01) gives us confidence and cautious optimism we have addressed the causes of the FTG-06a endgame failure in December 2010 and are on the right track for a successful return to intercept using the redesigned EKV.”

However the DOT&E Report’s description (six months after Syring’s statement above) of the outcome of this test was somewhat less glowing, saying that “The GBI boost vehicle and the CE-II EKV with the redesigned component performed adequately and mostly as expected.”  It went on to say that: “The MDA noted several unexpected results that did not negatively affect test execution or data collection.  The MDA is analyzing these unexpected results to determine if any of them pose a risk to GBI operational or test performance.”


[1] Andrea Shalal-Esa, “U.S. Should Consider Re-Design of Missile Defense System: Report,” Reuters, January 29, 2014.  Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/29/us-usa-missile-defense-idUSBREA0S0ED20140129?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews.

THAAD Flight Tests Since 2005 (January 27, 2014)

Flight tests of Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system since
developmental testing resumed in 2005 and planned future tests.

FTT-01 (November 22, 2005:  First launch of an operationally-configured THAAD interceptor.[1]  The launch, conducted at the White Sands Test Range (WSMR), successfully demonstrated the operation of missile and kill vehicle, although no target was used and thus no intercept was attempted.  The THAAD TPY-2 radar does not appear to have participated in this test.

FTT-02 (May 11, 2006): Second flight test of operational THAAD interceptor.[2]  No actual target was used.  This was the first test to include all of the THAAD system components, including the TPY-2 radar.  The radar provided simulated target data to the THAAD fire control system.  Test was conducted at WSMR and was reported as successful.

FTT-03 (July 12, 2006):  First intercept attempt and first successful intercept using an operational interceptor.[3]  The target was a non-separating, short-range missile (a Hera missile) and the intercept took place in the high endoatmosphere.  It was an integrated system test in which the THAAD TPY-2 radar acquired and tracked the target and provided in-flight updates.  Test was conducted at WSMR.

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