Boeing and the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) team have recently installed the 44th interceptor missile, ahead of schedule, bolstering America’s defense against long-range ballistic missiles.
Placing the interceptor in its silo meets a U.S. Department of Defense requirement of increasing the inventory to 44 by the end of this year.
This interceptor includes features demonstrated in the successful intercontinental ballistic missile intercept test conducted in May. During the test, GMD interceptor missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California destroyed an ICBM-class ( Intercontinental ballistic missile) target fired from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“The ballistic missile threat that our partners in the Missile Defense Agency are defending this country from requires always-ready capabilities,” said Norm Tew, Boeing vice president and GMD program director. “As the system architect for nearly two decades, Boeing continues to deliver through our expertise in developing, testing and fielding progressively advanced solutions for this vital mission.”
The interceptor is designed to launch and destroy ballistic missile threats after receiving detection and tracking information from land-, sea- and space-based sensors. Boeing has been the system’s prime contractor since 2001. The GMD system includes command-and-control facilities, communications terminals and a 20,000-mile fiber-optic communications network that interfaces with ballistic missile defense radars and other sensors.
The Pentagon has other elements of missile defense that have shown to be more reliable, although they are designed to work against medium-range or shorter-range ballistic missiles (MRBM, SRBM).
These include the Patriot missile, which numerous countries have purchased from the U.S., and the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which the U.S. deployed this year to South Korea to defend against medium-range missiles from North Korea.