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Press Release

National Missile Defense - IEC Was There!

By: Rick Lloyd (Reprinted from the IEC INTERCOM, November 1999)

MISSILE LAUNCH: Unarmed launch over the Pacific carries IEC's Ballistic Missile Translators.
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The interceptor, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile that houses an analog translator, sends a Global Positioning System (GPS) signal to the Translated Global Positioning System   Range System (TGRS) equipment and TPS located at the Kwajalein Missile Range in the Pacific.

A prototype National Missile Defense (NMD) system passed a critical test on Saturday, 2 October intercepting and destroying an unarmed missile over the Pacific. The test made national news. This was the third Integrated Flight Test (IFT-3) of the NMD program, however, this was the first test of the kill vehicle missile's ability to actually destroy a target by smashing into it. A Minuteman missile carrying a dummy warhead (target) and a decoy balloon was launched just after 7 p.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base with Richard Redhead supporting the operation.

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A Minuteman missile carrying a dummy warhead (target) and a decoy balloon launched from Vandenberg AFB.
The Minuteman's vapor cloud could be seen for hundreds of miles throughout Orange County. About 20 minutes later, the kill vehicle missile was launched from Kwajalein Island. The two missiles hurtled toward each other at a combined speed of 16,000 miles per hour. Ten minutes later, 3,000 miles from California and 140 miles above the ocean, the kill vehicle destroyed the target. George Rossiter and Tim Endo supported the operation.

Both the target and the interceptor had IEC Ballistic Missile Translators onboard. The interceptor was a two-stage vehicle that included an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle and a Payload Launch Vehicle. The BMTs were developed in the late 1980's and 100 were delivered to the Air Force in the early 1990’s to support these types of tests.

Two GPS Translator Processors were installed at Vandenberg to provide redundant tracking of the target. GTPs have the capability to track all current analog translators like the BMT, as well as, the IEC-developed Digital GPS Translator. The GTPs and DGTs are part of the Translated GPS Range System (TGRS) currently being developed and tested. This was the second field test for the GTPs. The first test was conducted August 19, 1999. Two GTPs were installed at the Kauai Test Facility located on the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. The GTP tracked a Ballistic Missile Translator on RV-3 from near horizon break to loss-of-signal. This test was also in support of the NMD program. Both GTPs at Vandenberg successfully tracked the target from lift-off to loss-of-signal.

On Kwajalein Island, the IEC-developed Translator Processing System was used to track both the target and the interceptor. The TPS was the primary range safety system at Kwajalein Missile Range. The TPS played a critical role providing the location of the target to the interceptor prior to launch. Without this information the interceptor could not have hit the target. In the deployed system, ground-based radars will provide the interceptor with this information.

The Minuteman missile also had an IEC GPS receiver to aid the guidance system. IEC provides Lockheed Martin a high-dynamics GPS receiver for the Minuteman II missile as part of the Multi-Service Launch System. The MSLS’s objective is to provide a missile fly profile with a trajectory starting from Vandenberg AFB into the Pacific Ocean region. This system has been used as the target for the successful NMD testing. The receiver provides GPS derived position, velocity, and time data to augment the Lockheed Martin inertial navigation system which provides the guidance for the first several stages of the Minuteman launch. All five launches to this date that contained IEC’s MSLS GPS receivers have been successful.

The next NMD mission (IFT-4) is currently planned for January 2000. IFT-5 is planned for April 2000, and this will be the first test with DGTs installed on both the target and the interceptor. GTPs will be used to track the DGTs at Vandenberg and Kwajalein Missile Range.

This successful intercept test was the first of about 20 planned to demonstrate the NMD system technology, effectiveness, and reliability over the next six years. "Users were jumping up and down with excitement from the performance of the system. A more capable system taking up less space," said Rick Lloyd. Rick added that "the successful test is a testimony to the excellent work by the TGRS team at Interstate and the tri-service users who support the program." He said the "product works and supports the user."The DoD will conduct a deployment readiness review beginning next summer to review the status of the NMD program, including potential costs and assessment of the ballistic missile threat to the U.S., and the status of arms reduction efforts involving Russia. After receiving the results of this review, the Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, will make a recommendation to the President. Mr. Cohen quoted the test is "certainly a positive development for us" because it demonstrated "the kind of technology we are capable of developing." If the President decides to deploy, the National Missile Defense System could be operational in 2005.

For more information, contact:
Greg Martz
Marketing Manager, Communications
Phone: (714) 758-4158