Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, in partnership with Boeing and the Missile Defense Agency, conducted a test to prove the Ground Based Interceptors (GBI) ability to reach space after using only two booster stages, versus the standard three. The test demonstrated successful expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense systems intercept window, giving the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) a chance to destroy an incoming threat at a shorter range.

During the test, a GBI containing a Raytheon-designed mockup of the EKV’s mass launched into space and demonstrated proper and safe kill vehicle ejection. Using a mass mockup, rather than an actual kill vehicle, reserves critical assets for the warfighter and reduces costs, while still allowing engineers to gather valuable data for EKV during booster flyout.

The goal of missile defense is to create as much opportunity as possible to intercept threats, said Scott Alexander, executive director of Integrated Missile Defense Solutions at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. This test proves extending the response window is possible, which gives our warfighters more time to respond.

The EKV currently defends the U.S. against long-range ballistic missiles by intercepting incoming warheads while they are still in space. As part of the GMD system, the EKV is the kinetic-force interceptor component for the GBI. By using multi-color sensors, the onboard computer identifies and tracks targets. The EKV guides to the target through steering thrusters and eliminates the threat with the force of impact.