Missile-destroying Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle intercepts target
Successful test takes place high over the Pacific
Raytheon’s Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle destroyed an intermediate range ballistic missile target in space on Sunday, marking the first successful intercept for the latest variant of the EKV and the ninth for the overall program.
“This is an important moment for our nation,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems. “The successful test reflects the tireless systems-engineering work by a joint government-industry team to ensure the U.S. is protected from long-range ballistic missiles.”
The intercept took place during a Missile Defense Agency test of Boeing’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense System, which is designed to protect the U.S. against long-range ballistic missile attack by destroying incoming threats in space.
The intermediate range ballistic missile target used in the test was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, while the Ground-based Interceptor was fired from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.
Once in space, the interceptor released the EKV, which identified the target, tracked it and destroyed it. EKVs carry no warheads and eliminate targets by force of impact alone.
The performance of the EKV in this test builds on last year’s successful non-intercept flight test and validates the latest design, known as the “CE II” variant.
“Raytheon is 100 percent committed and invested in providing innovative, reliable kill vehicles for the protection of the US,” said Wes Kremer, vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems. “Today is proof that we have fully resolved the issues discovered in previous tests, and I am confident in the system deployed today.”
Kremer said Raytheon supports the need for a redesign to the current EKV, which was originally deployed by presidential decree in prototype status in 2004.
“Raytheon supports a robust EKV redesign that further increases reliability, testability and maintainability of the fleet,” Kremer said. “We know exactly what it will take to mature the EKV from its prototype status into a mature, consistently performing program, and we can do it while significantly reducing costs.”
That sentiment was echoed by Sharon Walk, director of Raytheon’s Space Systems Operations, who oversees the Space Factory where the EKV and Standard Missile-3 kill vehicles are made.
Raytheon kill vehicles are built by the same engineers using the same equipment, and the lessons learned on the highly successful SM-3 program will be applied to future generations of EKV, Walk said.
“We have the talent, technology and manufacturing equipment to not only support current designs, but also to stay ahead of future ones,” Walk said.