USASMDC targets team provides dual targets for MEADS system historic test
November 26, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's target team provided tactical targets supporting NATO Medium Extended Air Defense System Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) during recent flight testing at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
MEADS intercepted and destroyed two simultaneous targets attacking from opposite directions during a stressing demonstration of its 360-degree air and missile defense (AMD) capabilities at White Sands Missile Range. The flight test achieved all NAMEADSMA criteria for success.
While the MEADS interceptors were successful, the SMDC target team also met its objective of providing low-cost, reliable targets for air and missile defense testing.
The first target was a QF-4 air-breathing target simulating a fighter jet attacking the defended area from the south. To accomplish this, SMDC personnel teamed with the U.S. Air Force Detachment 1, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. A Vietnam-era F-4 fighter jet was retrofitted to operate by remote control to achieve performance objectives for the MEADS system.
"The 82nd aerial targets office is a responsive, mission-oriented organization that delivers top notch services," said Bryon K. Manley, SMDC Test Execution Support Division chief.
The second target intercepted was a Lance tactical ballistic missile launched out of the north.
"Lance is another in our low-cost target suite," said Manley. "The Department of Defense no longer has operational Lance missiles, and my division went and picked them up because there are programs that need cheap targets. We refurbished and provided 10 Lance tactical ballistic missiles test articles to exercise the defense system at a fraction of the cost of other targets normally available in the integrated missile defense community."
"SMDC provided MEADS targets, support and analysis that allowed us to execute an unprecedented test at White Sands Missile Range," said NATO MEADS Management Agency general manager, Gregory Kee. "MEADS couldn't have executed this complex mission, that being the first simultaneous intercept of two threats coming from opposite directions with a single fire unit and demonstrating the 360-degree capability of the MEADS system, without the dedication and commitment of SMDC."
There were 18 pre-intercept missions flown to check out the MEADS 360-degree capability and work the interface between system components. As another test execution service, SMDC also stationed a telemetry van nearby the MEADS system in the middle of White Sands Missile Range. From this position, SMDC technical teams were able to collect target telemetry and provide real-time position truth data for each mission.
"With 10 missiles launched between July and mid-November, we were able to provide NAMEADSMA with many opportunities to calibrate their system and perfect their engagement algorithms," continued Manley.
The summer of target launches was not without issues as the target team encountered and overcame some electrical interference issues on the Lance.
"The Lance issues required the test execution engineers from all test participants to buckle down and find solutions to get back on track," Manley said. "I am grateful to my entire team for their long hours and hard work to keep the program on track."
Using excess Army inventory to convert Lance missiles to targets gave SMDC the opportunity to help affordably advance a modern missile defense system designed to defend our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
SMDC is additionally developing solid propellant ballistic missile concepts designed to create assets span a broader short range ballistic missile spectrum. These concepts, coupled with the retired liquid missile system Lance, are part of a suite of short range ballistic missiles designed to meet Army Integrated Missile Defense needs while focusing on reduced cost and increased threat representation.