The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) conducted a successful intercept of an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) using an upgraded Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI).
The test, conducted in collaboration with U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 30, and the U.S. Space Command Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, showcased the GBI’s enhanced capabilities.
Taking place on December 11th at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, the test utilized the latest version of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Interceptor to intercept the IRBM. This groundbreaking trial demonstrated the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system’s increased agility in countering threats more swiftly.
The IRBM target was air-launched from a C-17 aircraft northwest of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaii, adding a dynamic element to the exercise. The upgraded GBI featured a Capability Enhanced-II Block 1 Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle. This test marked a significant milestone as it was the inaugural trial of a three-stage GBI operating in a two-stage mode. This adjustment allowed the release of the kill vehicle at an earlier stage by not igniting the third stage, facilitating closer range engagements.
“This successful intercept utilizing the 2-/3-Stage selectable Ground Based Interceptor capability in 2-stage mode provides the Warfighter with increased battlespace that supports additional shot opportunities to negate an incoming threat missile,” highlighted newly confirmed MDA Director Lt. Gen. Heath Collins. “This test demonstrates that we continue to provide enhanced capabilities for our existing Ground Based Interceptor fleet while we rapidly design and deliver the leap-ahead technology of the Next Generation Interceptor.”
The test’s primary aim was to exhibit the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system’s proficiency in engaging a target within an expanded engagement space enabled by the GBI operating in two-stage mode.