Lockheed Martin said on 27 August that it had successfully tested a "key element" of the US Missile Defense Agency's revolutionary 'multiple kill vehicle' payload, which adds volume kill capability for the war fighter and is a force multiplier for all the land- and sea-based weapons of the integrated mid-course missile defense system.
In the event of an enemy launch, a single interceptor equipped with this payload destroys not only the re-entry vehicle but also all credible threat objects; including countermeasures the enemy deploys to try to spoof missile defenses. The many-on-many strategy eliminates the need for extensive pre-launch intelligence.
It also leverages the ballistic missile defense system's discrimination capability, and is a robust and affordable solution for emerging threats. Present US strategic assessments contend that developing, testing and deploying a layered ballistic missile defense system for the US homeland, its deployed forces, friends and allies is essential for protecting against ballistic missiles of all ranges in all phases of flight.
The testing was carried out at Edwards Air Force Base's National Hover Test Facility in California, the company said in a statement. "An extended duration demonstration of the carrier vehicle's divert and attitude control system, built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, met performance objectives established by the agency," it said.
Lockheed Martin said that the Rocketdyne high-performance propulsion system "manoeuvres the carrier vehicle and its cargo of kill vehicles into the threat complex to intercept the targets. With tracking data from the ballistic missile defence system and its own heat detecting sensor, the carrier vehicle dispenses and guides the kill vehicles to destroy targets in the complex using their own individual manoeuvre rockets."
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a United Technologies company, is the propulsion contractor. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the Multiple Kill Vehicle payload system.