Boeing [NYSE: BA] has successfully tested modified underground silo and launch system components for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor, clearing the way for the silo to participate in a system flight test this summer.
The tests validated several silo modifications, including operation of the lateral support group -- the three "arms" that stabilize the interceptor inside the silo -- and the opening of the silo closure mechanism, or clamshell doors. The tests are part of a rigorous ground test protocol to ensure mission readiness before the actual GMD system flight test.
"This ground test milestone demonstrates reliability and repeatability of a 'test-as-you-fly' integrated system," said Scott Fancher, Boeing GMD vice president and program director. "The incremental and deliberate testing of each component as it is integrated into the system will ensure success when the system is called on to perform."
A series of six live-fire tests that trigger the synchronized launch sequence release of the lateral support group arms and the rapid opening of the clamshell doors was first conducted on the test silo in Huntsville, Ala., and then verified on a silo at the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), Calif.
The Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site includes four silos currently housing two interceptor missiles that, when activated, will serve as part of the overall Ballistic Missile Defense System. The other two silos will be used for operationally realistic testing, but also can hold operational interceptors if required. Interceptors were not inside the silos undergoing tests.
The missile defense complex at Vandenberg AFB is one of two U.S. installations with long-range interceptor missiles. The other site at Fort Greely, Alaska, currently has nine interceptor missiles fielded with plans to emplace additional interceptors during the next three years. Silos at both sites will be retrofitted with the tested modifications.
Boeing is the prime contractor for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the centerpiece of the Missile Defense Agency's overall layered ballistic missile defense architecture. Industry partners include Raytheon, Orbital Sciences Corp., Bechtel and Northrop Grumman.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $30.8 billion business. It provides network-centric system solutions to its global military, government, and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world's largest satellite manufacturer; a foremost developer of advanced concepts and technologies; a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in sustainment solutions and launch services.