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Missile defense booster test may pave way for 'shoot-assess-shoot' capability

The U.S. Space Force, Missile Defense Agency and Northern Command launched a Ground-Based Interceptor missile from North Vandenberg on Sunday, testing the potential for a shoot-assess-shoot missile defense capability. Photo by Airman Kadielle Shaw/U.S. Space Force
The U.S. Space Force, Missile Defense Agency and Northern Command launched a Ground-Based Interceptor missile from North Vandenberg on Sunday, testing the potential for a "shoot-assess-shoot" missile defense capability. Photo by Airman Kadielle Shaw/U.S. Space Force

Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency advanced missile defense capability in a successful flight test that could pave the way for systems to engage with incoming threats multiple times, officials said over the weekend.

Sunday's test included a three-stage booster in two-stage mode, which allowed the Ground-Based Interceptor missile to release a Raytheon-designed mockup of an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, or EKV, earlier in the flight than using the standard three stages.

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"This was the first flight test of the new selectable stage booster configuration in two-stage mode," MDA Director Vice Admiral Jon Hill said in a statement.

The new selectable stage booster, along with future upgrades to sensing and tracking abilities, will provide the warfighter with "robust" ability to assess the threat after initial engagement and retain the time to engage again if needed, MDA said in the statement.

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"This is our first step toward a robust 'shoot-assess-shoot' capability," Hill added.

The MDA launched the GBI missile, which is an element of the nation's Ground-based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, System, from North Vandenberg on Sunday, along with officials for Space Launch Delta 30 based at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. and U.S. Northern Command.

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"Today was another milestone in the longstanding partnership between Space Launch Delta 30 and the Missile Defense Agency," Col. Robert Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander, said in a press release.

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"Once again, the combined team displayed their hallmark professionalism and 'can do' attitude in making this a successful test," Long said.

The GMD is part of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system which allows commanders to target and eliminate ballistic missile threats in space, and it aims to protects the homeland from intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from hostile nations, Defense News noted.

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