Target Practice: 50 Times We Successfully Imitated Our Adversaries
Over the last two decades, the Lockheed Martin Targets team has taken their role in Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) target practice very seriously. The team receives high-fidelity threat system ballistic missile performance requirements from the government and builds ballistic missile targets to meet those requirements and represent real-world threats.
The Targets team then fields and launches these threat-representative missiles to test the ability of the BMDS to detect, track classify, discriminate, and, in the case of lethality intercept tests, negate the targets.
In May 2016, the team flew their 50th successful high-fidelity target mission. Each of those 50 targets has supported developmental or readiness testing of missile defense elements as the BMDS continues to mature with frequently-evolving threats.
Over these 50 missions, the team has launched a mix of short-, medium-, intermediate- and long-range targets from ground, air and sea-launch platforms to maximize mission flexibility. In addition to launch capabilities, Lockheed Martin designs and integrates high-fidelity payloads with modified reentry vehicles. Since 1996, the Lockheed Martin Targets team has achieved a 98-percent target reliability rate (50 successes out of 51 missions).
As the ballistic missile capabilities of adversaries continue to advance, Lockheed Martin’s high-fidelity ballistic missile targets evolve right along with them.
“Over the past twenty years, Lockheed Martin has successfully flight tested a wide range of high-fidelity target system capabilities, and we are currently fielding the most technically complex target reentry vehicle to ever have flown for a BMDS flight test for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA),” explained Jim McCurry, a Lockheed Martin Fellow and Chief Scientist of the Targets and Countermeasures team. “There are also optional kits that our MDA customer can choose to have us add to many of our target configurations that provide additional threat-representative mission capabilities.”
While the Lockheed Martin Targets team continues to anticipate new ballistic missile threat system capabilities, here’s a look back at some of the most notable tests among the first 50 Lockheed Martin target missions:
Debut of a New Medium-Range Target – Oct. 17, 2014
A new Lockheed Martin Medium-Range Ballistic Missile target made its first flight from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, for a non-intercept mission. The target includes the extremely complex Modified Ballistic Reentry Vehicle 5 (MBRV-5). Photo: Missile Defense Agency
First Integration in the U.S. of an All-Up-Round Solid Propulsion Target – Jan. 31, 2010
For the first time, the Targets team integrated an all-up-round solid propulsion target in the U.S. for the first launch of Lockheed Martin’s LV-2 target. The Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile target launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Image: Missile Defense Agency
First Separating Target – Nov. 17, 2005
This was the first successful Missile Defense Agency intercept with a separating target, meaning that the target reentry vehicle separated from its booster. The Medium-Range Ballistic Missile target launched from Kauai, Hawaii. Previous tests used unitary targets that did not separate after launch. Photo: Missile Defense Agency
Maiden Flight of Air-Launched Target – Sept. 10, 2013
An air-launched Extended Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (eMRBM) completed its maiden flight in an integrated test of the layered Ballistic Missile Defense System. Lockheed Martin built the eMRBM, which was one of two successful target launches for the test. Photo: Missile Defense Agency
U.S. – Israeli Joint Intercept Test – Feb. 21, 2011
Lockheed Martin provided the target for a joint U.S. – Israel test of the Arrow Weapon System. The Short-Range Ballistic Missile was launched from a mobile launch platform off the coast of California, then intercepted. VIDEO: http://www.mda.mil/video/2011_arrow_joint.ogv
Airborne Laser Test Bed – Feb. 11, 2010
The Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Test Bed successfully detected, tracked and destroyed a Short-Range Ballistic Missile. Within two minutes of target missile launch from a mobile launch platform at sea, the heat from the laser caused critical structural failure on the target missile. Image: Missile Defense Agency infrared image of the intercept
Japan’s First Ballistic Missile Defense Test at Sea – Dec. 17, 2007
In a cooperative intercept flight test with the Missile Defense Agency, the crew aboard a Japanese destroyer with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capability successfully detected, tracked and destroyed a target. The Medium-Range Ballistic Missile target launched from Kauai, Hawaii. Photo: Missile Defense Agency
First BMDS flight test of a long-range, high-fidelity target – July 14, 2001
As part of an integrated flight test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System, Lockheed Martin provided a long-range, high-fidelity target that launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. In this complex Ballistic Missile Defense Organization fight test, the system intercepted the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile target 140 miles above Earth.
Approved for Public Release
16-MDA-8709 (9 June 16)