Update on Future Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) Flight Tests (April 12, 2015)

An updated description of planned GMD flight tests (last update was post of April 17, 2013) as best as I can figure them out:

FY 2016: GM CTV-02+ (1Q FY 2016). This test replaces FTG-09, which was previously planned as an intercept test with a CE-II kill vehicle. The “+” indicates that the kill vehicle has the fix to the vibration problem that was demonstrated in the June 2014 FTG-06b test.[1] One purpose of the test is to “demonstrate the performance of alternate divert thrusters” that might be used in future kill vehicles.[2] One reason for developing the new thrusters is to reduce further the vibration problem involved in the failure of test FTG-06a in December 2010. The test is also intended to demonstrate “the end-to-end discrimination of a complex target scene including countermeasures.”[3] Although officially not an intercept test, the presence of a target raises the prospect that the interceptor might actually hit the target, as happened in FTG-02 in 2006, without running the risk of failing an intercept test.

FTG-15 (4Q FY 2016 -1Q FY 2017). This is to be the first GMD intercept test against an ICBM-range target (range greater than 5,500 km). It also will be the first flight and intercept test of the new production CE-II Block-I version of the Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). With one exception, all subsequent planned GMD intercept tests will be against ICBM range targets.[4]

FY 2017:

FTG-11 (4Q, FY 2017). This is to be the first salvo (multiple interceptors fired at a single target) test of the GMD system. In it, both a CE-I and CE-II equipped ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) will be fired at a single ICBM-range target. In its 2014 annual report, DOT&E noted that this test would be the first opportunity to implement its recommendation that the CE-I EKV be re-intercept tested following the failure of FTG-07 in July 2013.[5]

FY 2018:

GM CTV-03 (3Q, FY 2018). This will be a non-intercept test of a two-stage version of the currently three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor.[6] Although the MDA has previously (in 2010) flight tested a two-stage GBI, this test will be of a new two-stage booster design derived from an upgraded design (C2) of the three-stage GBI. MDA is considering the possibility of deploying this two-stage booster with the Redesigned Kill Vehicle, potentially as early as 2020.

Designation unknown (FY 2018). Non-intercept flight test of the new Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV).[7] It is possible that this test could be combined with CTV-03. However, since MDA Director Admiral Syring has stated that in 2016 MDA will begin acquisition of two additional boosters for RKV testing, this seems likely to be a separate test.[8]

FY 2019:

FTG-17 (3Q, FY 2019). This is to be the first intercept test using the two-stage version of the GBI booster.[9]

Designation unknown (FY 2019). First intercept test of the new RKV.

FY 2020:

FTG-13 (3Q FY 2020). This will be the first GMD test against two near-simultaneous targets. In an operational test, two GBI interceptors (a CE-I and a CE-II) will attempt to intercept two targets with IRBM and ICBM ranges.[10] This test could be part of or coordinated with the BMDS Operational Test FTO-04 (which would likely involve a mix of Aegis, Aegis Ashore, THAAD and/or Patriot systems) which is also scheduled for 3Q FY 2020.

FY 2021:

FTG-12 (4Q, FY 2021). No additional information appears to be available about this test or the subsequent FTG-14. Both tests are listed in the DOT&E’s 2011 Annual Report.

FY 2022:

FTG-14 (4Q, 2022).


[1] Amy Butler, “Pentagon Plans Three Ambitious GMD ‘Firsts’,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, December 18, 2014.

[2] Prepared Testimony of J. Michael Gilmore, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 25, 2015.

[3] Gilmore, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 25, 2015.

[4] Prepared Testimony of J. Michael Gilmore, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Senate Armed Services Committee, April 2, 2014; Prepared testimony of Admiral J. D. Syring, Defense Subcommittee, Senate Appropriations Committee, March 18, 2105.

[5] DOT&E Annual Report 2014, p. 312.

[6] Scott Maocione, “MDA Puts $51 Million in Budget To Develop Two-stage Booster,” Inside Defense SITREP, March 12, 2015.

[7] Butler, “Pentagon Plans”

[8] Prepared Statement of Vice Admiral J.D. Syring, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senate Armed Services, March 25, 2015.

[9] Maocione, “MDA Puts $51 Million.”

[10] Butler, “Pentagon Plans;” Gilmore Prepared Testimony, 2014.

Leave a comment


  1. Ben Eng

     /  April 12, 2015

    I’m curious how much junk these exoatmospheric intercepts are going to leave in orbit.

  2. Ben,
    The US exo-atmospheric test intercepts are conducted a such low altitudes (and frequently or always on descending trajectories) and sub-orbital speeds, so that all the debris reenters the atmosphere very quickly.
    George Lewis


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