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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

US Missile Defense Agency tests new “kill vehicles” to destroy ICBMs

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The U.S. Missile Defense Agency tested two Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles (EKV), which destroyed a threat representative intercontinental ballistic missile during a test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD).

One EKV intercepted the target and the other gathered test data in what is known as a “two-shot salvo” engagement. It was the first time these Raytheon developed EKV’s were tested.

The EKV system is designed to protect the United States against long-range ballistic missile attacks by destroying incoming threats safely outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The test mirrored a real-life scenario where the missile was destroyed far away from population centers. The EKV identified the threat, discriminated between the target and countermeasures, maneuvered into the target’s path and destroyed it using “hit-to-kill” technology. Both radars play critical roles in supporting the GMD system. In the test, one interceptor struck the target in space, the second destroyed additional debris to ensure missile destruction. The test is known as a “two-shot salvo” engagement.

“The system is among the most complex and serves as the first line of ballistic missile defense for the United States,” Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president, said.

The target launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean while the interceptors launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

“The data collected from this test will enhance missile defense for years to come and solidify confidence in the system,” Paul Smith, Boeing vice president and program director of Ground-based Midcourse Defense, said. “We continue to increase the system’s reliability as the U.S. government plans to expand the number of interceptors protecting the country.”