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"Spearhead" of U.S. Missile Defense System Passes Test

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

As the ‘spearhead’ of the ground-based missile interceptor, Raytheon’s upgraded Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle played a vital role in a non-intercept flight test of Boeing's Ground-based Midcourse Defense program.

The EKV locks on and eliminates high-speed ballistic missile warheads in space using nothing more than the sheer force of impact, known as a “hit-to-kill” defense.

"Today's test allowed us to challenge the EKV in a series of realistic outer-space environments, which gives us a broad range of data prior to moving toward an intercept scenario," said Wes Kremer, Raytheon's vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems.

A target missile launch was not planned for this flight test. After performing fly out maneuvers, the three-stage booster deployed the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle to a designated point in space. After separating from the booster, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle executed a variety of pre-planned maneuvers to collect performance data in space.

“This is the most complex missile defense mission in the world, and it requires the most advanced kill vehicle in the world,” said Steve Nicholls, Raytheon’s EKV program director. "The EKV performed extremely well today, and I have great confidence that we’ll be able to move toward an intercept flight test this year.”

Raytheon's Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle is a critical component of the U.S.'s first line of defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The EKV leverages more than two decades of expertise in kill vehicle technology. It has an advanced, multi-color sensor that detects and discriminates incoming warheads from other objects. The vehicle also carries its own propulsion, communications link, guidance and control system, as well as computers to support target selection and intercept.

Deployed and operational today, the Raytheon EKV has made eight successful intercepts throughout the life of the program.

Last Updated: 01/15/2015

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