US defence/aerospace firm Lockheed Martin and the US Missile Defense Agency have carried out an initial air-launched ballistic missile target test, with positive results.
According to Lockheed Martin and the MDA, the eMRBM (Extended Medium-range Ballistic Missile) target was dropped from a USAF C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft, positioned over Arizona at an altitude of 25,000 feet. Once released, the Extended Medium-range Ballistic Missile prototype detached itself from the carriage extraction system and deployed parachutes as it descended to the ground.
In a press release, Targets and Countermeasures programme director, Patricia Dare, commented: "The eMRBM air-launch equipment and carriage extraction system performed nominally in this test, verifying system performance and preparing the launch team for future mission operations."
EMRBM Flight Test
The eMRBM flight test involved an unpowered pilot missile target and, so, the sortie took place to confirm that the system's support equipment performed as expected. Next, the missile target itself will be launched and that mission's scheduled to take place before the end of 2013.
"This new target is designed to provide the threat realism that is essential to ensuring that missile defense systems are developed against accurate representations of the systems they would likely encounter in an operational environment", added Lockheed Martin Missile Defense Systems' John Holly
Ballistic Missile Target
The air-launched Extended Medium-range Ballistic Missile target is being developed by Lockheed Martin as a strike platform for warfighters to practise-hit when they're being taught how to operate the Ballistic Missile Defense System, which would be activated in the event of ballistic missiles being directed towards the United States.
Lockheed Martin is presently working on no less than 17 missile target designs, in line with the Targets and Countermeasures Prime Contract awarded it a decade ago. According to Lockheed Martin literature released at the time, 'These target systems will enable the US to realistically, reliably and affordably test the full range of ballistic missile defense systems under development.'