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“Kill Vehicles”
are all about protection

Kill Vehicle Innovation

With the threat of long-range ballistic missiles growing every day, Raytheon has one goal: ensure the U.S. and its allies are protected today and into the future.

Continued investment in missile defense technology will help us meet that goal. The breadth and depth of Raytheon’s kill vehicle expertise is unparalleled, and our engineering experts are 100 percent committed to applying their experience from success on the highly reliable, consistently performing Standard Missile-3 to the next-generation exoatmospheric kill vehicle.

From drawing board to deployment, no other company has the unique technical talent, proven success or infrastructure to deliver a simpler, easier-to-produce next-generation kill vehicle by 2017 with a significant reduction in cost.

Kill Vehicle Diagram

What is a Kill Vehicle?

A kill vehicle is a state-of-the-art projectile that destroys long-range ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere using the sheer force of impact. The ‘hit-to-kill’ technology has been likened to a bullet hitting a bullet. The massive collision of a kill vehicle hitting its target obliterates the threat completely; explosives are not necessary.

The production of a single Raytheon Standard Missile-3 kill vehicle can require the integration of advanced components sourced from more than 50 suppliers. Last year, SM-3 kill vehicles destroyed five ballistic missile threat targets in five consecutive tests.

Why We Need Kill Vehicles

Kill vehicles are important because they’re our first line of defense against the growing threat of long-range ballistic missiles. Ballistic missiles travel in space and could carry devastating payloads aimed at critical infrastructure or population centers.

Raytheon’s kill vehicles are designed to destroy these threats as far out of harm’s way as possible—in space.

Raytheon makes two kill vehicles. The first is a key component of the Standard Missile-3 interceptor. The second is a key component of the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI). These two Raytheon kill vehicles have a combined record of 35 successful intercepts in space.

Kill Vehicle Diagram
Kill Vehicle in Space

Raytheon's Exoatomospheric Kill Vehicle is the intercept component of the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI)

How Do Kill Vehicles Work?

An interceptor missile carries a Raytheon kill vehicle into space, delivering it within range of its target.

Then the main body of the interceptor falls away, leaving only the kill vehicle. Alone in the exoatmosphere, it uses its own propulsion, communication links and guidance systems to hunt down the threat amid debris. The high-speed impact in space ends the threat’s journey, protecting population centers below.

Easy, right? It’s not. Raytheon’s kill vehicle design, development, testing and deployment expertise are unmatched in the world.

Recent News

Raytheon to work on multi-warhead interceptor (Arizona Daily Star)

Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems and Lockheed Martin have been awarded contracts to revive the idea of a multiple-warhead ballistic missile interceptor.

Guided missiles: Arizona's most high-tech company (The Arizona Republic)

Raytheon, with about 9,600 employees in Tucson, produces about 40 percent of the missiles used by the U.S. military, and about 30 percent of the global supply.

House mark on redesigned Kill Vehicle has MDA concerned (Space News)

A senior U.S. Missile Defense Agency official expressed concern June 18 about a House spending bill that provides some 22 percent less funding than requested for a new kill vehicle.

U.S. Aegis system zaps cruise, ballistic missile targets in test (Reuters)

Charting a Course in Missile Defense

Agency director Syring praises test, outlines strategy for future homeland defense.

Critical flight-test success buoys Raytheon missile killer (AZ Starnet)

A ground-based interceptor carrying a kill vehicle made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems was launched June 22 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. Delivers Opening Keynote at 2014 Missile Defense Conference (Atlantic Council)

The admiral announced that if the next missile defense test succeeds, the US will resume production of 14 in-progress missiles and expects to install them in the ground by the end of 2017.

Raytheon to resume production of warhead after successful test (Reuters)

Raytheon Co on Monday said it expects to soon resume production of an updated warhead, or "kill vehicle," used for U.S. homeland missile defense after the system successfully intercepted a dummy target over the Pacific.

White Papers

2014 Defense Dossier - PDF (American Foreign Policy Council)

Discussion of the issue of contemporary missile threats confronting the U.S. and the state of the American response to them.

When Missile Defense is About More Than Missiles (American Interest)

U.S. and NATO missile defense plans are about more than just guarding against rogue missile threats from Iran. They will shape the U.S.-Russia relationship and, more importantly, long-term relations between America and Europe.

U.S. Missile Defense: Closing the Gap (World Affairs Journal)

The best strategy to deal with gaps in missile defense planning is to focus more on improving and multiplying existing capabilities in the near term while preparing to develop significantly more capable systems over the long term.


U.S. Military Driving Towards Effective Ballistic And Cruise Missile Defenses

Of late, virtually all the media’s and public’s attention on matters military has been focused on events in western Iraq and eastern Syria. The fight against the Islamic State is important, but it is by no means the only theater of conflict for the U.S. military.

Missile Test Important Step for Missile Defense System (Armed with Science)

The Missile Defense Agency and its joint partners completed the first intercept using the second-generation exoatmospheric kill vehicle, or EKV, during a test over the Pacific Ocean

Sunday’s Missile Defense Test Could Prove More Important Than What We Do In Iraq (Lexington Institute)

The Missile Defense Agency conducted a successful test of the latest Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) built by Raytheon for the National Missile Defense system.

Is America’s Defense Effective Enough? This Test Showed We’re Getting Closer (The Daily Signal)

The U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) successfully intercepted a sophisticated long-range ballistic missile target.

Misconceptions of Missile Defense: “BMD Doesn’t Work" (Missile Defense Review)

In this article, Abel Romero from the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance addresses the misconception that missile defense doesn’t work.

Missile Defense Sites to Protect the East Coast (The Daily Signal)

While the West Coast possesses the capability to defend itself against long-range ballistic missile attacks, the East Coast remains comparatively less protected.


Raytheon's missile defense leadership honored

Raytheon's missile defense leadership honored

Employees recognized for contributions to global security - Learn More.

Space Factory expansion

Raytheon completes $9.2 million Space Factory expansion

Raytheon has completed a 9,600-square foot, $9.2 million expansion of its Space Systems Operations factory on the outskirts of Tucson - Learn More.

The Warhead Hunters

The Warhead Hunters

Meet some of the engineers behind an amazing missile defense system - Learn More.

U.S. Navy Test Doubles Defense to Meet Modern Missile Threats

U.S. Navy Test Doubles Defense to Meet Modern Missile Threats

Multiple Launches Destroy Ballistic and Cruise Missile Targets - Learn More.

Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Intercepts Missile Target

Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Intercepts Missile Target

Interceptor destroys simulated ballistic missile in successful test high over the Pacific.

Inside the Space Factory

Inside the Space Factory

Inside Raytheon's Space Factory: Ultra high tech lab in Arizona gears up to produce the next generation of missile-destroying "kill vehicles". Learn more.

Kill Vehicle Video

Key to Missile Defense: Raytheon's Factory of the Future

Welcome to Huntsville, Ala., where engineers are turning out a key piece of the United States' missile defense plan, the Standard Missile-3, in a gleaming new factory.

Kill Vehicle Video

Raytheon's Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Provide Layered Defense Around the World

The threat of ballistic missiles is increasing in number and complexity. Defending against them requires a robust system of integrated land, sea and space Ballistic Missile Defense assets.


Kill Vehicle Infographic

Kill Vehicles Protect From Long-Range Ballistic Missiles

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