Ground-Based Midcourse Defense
Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) is the United States' anti-ballistic missile system for intercepting incoming warheads in space, during the midcourse phase of ballistic trajectory flight. It is a major component of the American missile defense strategy to counter ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) carrying nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads. The system is deployed in military bases in the states of Alaska and California; in 2018 comprising 44 interceptors and spanning 15 time zones with sensors on land, at sea, and in orbit. In 2019, a missile defense review requested that 20 additional ground-based interceptors be based in Alaska.
GMD is administered by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), while the operational control and execution is provided by the U.S. Army, and support functions are provided by the U.S. Air Force. Previously known as National Missile Defense (NMD), the name was changed in 2002 to differentiate it from other U.S. missile defense programs, such as space-based and sea-based intercept programs, or defense targeting the boost phase and reentry flight phases. The program was projected to have cost $40 billion by 2017. That year, the MDA scheduled its first intercept test in three years in the wake of North Korea's accelerated long-range missile testing program.
The system consists of ground-based interceptor missiles and radar which would intercept incoming warheads in space. Boeing Defense, Space & Security is the prime contractor of the program, tasked to oversee and integrate systems from other major defense sub-contractors, such as Computer Sciences Corporation and Raytheon.
The key sub-systems of the GMD system are:
- Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) – Raytheon
- Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) – boost vehicle built by Orbital Sciences; for every interceptor missile there are a missile silo and a silo interface vault (SIV), which is an underground electronics room adjacent to the silo.
- Battle management command, control and communications (BMC3) – Northrop Grumman
- Ground-based radars (GBR) – Raytheon
- Upgraded early-warning radars (UEWR) (or PAVE PAWS) – Raytheon
- Forward-based X band radars (FBXB) such as the sea-based X-band platform and the AN/TPY-2 — Raytheon
Interceptor sites are at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. A third site was planned for a proposed US missile defense complex in Poland, but was canceled in September 2009.
In December 2008, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency awarded Boeing a $397.9 million contract to continue development of the program.
In March 2013, the Obama administration announced plans to add 14 interceptors to the current 26 at Fort Greely in response to North Korean threats. The deployment of a second TPY-2 radar to Japan was announced at the same time. While President Obama said that the additional deployment was a hedge against unexpected capabilities, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei complained that the additional defenses would affect the global strategic balance and strategic trust. In late 2013, there were plans for a proposed Eastern United States missile defense site to house a battery of these missiles.
On 30 April 2014, the Government Accountability Office issued a report stating that the system may not be operational any time soon because "its development was flawed". It said the GBI missile was at that point "capable of intercepting a simple threat in a limited way". On 12 August 2015, Lt. General David L. Mann (commanding general USASMDC/ARSTRAT) characterized GMD as the nation's only ground-based defense against limited ICBM attacks.
Issues with the EKV prompted the MDA to work with Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin on a new Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), scheduled to debut in 2025. In 2019, the government issued a stop work order for the RKV after recent test results indicated that the current RKV plan is not viable. The government "initiated an analysis of alternative courses of action"; on 21 August the MDA cancelled the $5.8 billion contract for the RKV. This initiates new work on bids for the successor to the Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) to 2025. The current GMD programs continue per plan, with up to 64 GBIs (meaning an additional 20) in the missile fields for 2019.
Expenditures on the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense program were estimated to be US$30.7 billion by 2007. In 2013, it was estimated that the program would cost $40.926 billion from inception through fiscal year 2017; in 2013–17 spending was to total $4,457.8M, an average of $892M per year.
- BV: Booster Verification Test
- CMCM: Critical Measurements and Countermeasures
- CTV: Control Test Vehicle
- FTG: Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor
- FTX: Flight Test Other
- IFT: Integrated Flight Test
After the FTG-11 test on 25 March 2019, 11 of the 20 (55%) hit-to-kill intercept tests have succeeded. No flight intercept tests from 2010 to 2013 were successful. In response the Pentagon asked for a budget increase and another test for the fielded program. The successful intercept FTG-15 was accomplished by an operational team of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade using their standard operating procedures (round-the-clock 24/7) without foreknowledge of the timing of the ICBM launch.
|IFT-3||2 Oct 1999||Success||This was an element test of the EKV that relied on a surrogate booster vehicle. Because the Inertial Measurement Unit malfunctioned, the EKV used a backup acquisition mode to acquire the target.|
|IFT-4||18 Jan 2000||Failure||This was the first end-to-end system test, again relying on a surrogate booster vehicle. The test was designed to target a mock warhead, transmitting its location by GPS, and ignore a single large decoy balloon. The failure to intercept was traced to an obstructed cooling line on the EKV that disrupted the IR sensors' ability to cool down to their operating temperatures in time, leaving the EKV unable to detect its target.|
|IFT-5||8 Jul 2000||Failure||This was the second end-to-end system test. The test was designed to target a mock warhead, transmitting its location by C-band, and ignore a single large decoy balloon. The failure to intercept occurred because the EKV did not separate from the boost vehicle due to an apparent failure of the 1553 data bus in the booster.|
|IFT-6||14 Jul 2001||Success||This test repeated IFT-5. The prototype X-Band radar falsely reported a missed target but was confirmed by a satellite, jet, and ground stations.|
|IFT-7||3 Dec 2001||Success||This test repeated IFT-6 except that the target booster used Orbital's Target Launch Vehicle instead of Lockheed Martin's Multi-Service Launch System.|
|IFT-8||15 Mar 2002||Success||The test was designed to target a mock warhead, transmitting its location by C-band, and ignore both a large decoy balloon and two small decoy balloons.|
|IFT-9||14 Oct 2002||Success||Twice delayed from August, this was the first test to use the Aegis SPY-1 radar, although it was not used to achieve the intercept. After the classification of decoys since May 2002, no information is known on their details.|
|IFT-10||11 Dec 2002||Failure||The failure to intercept occurred because the EKV did not separate from the boost vehicle because a pin broke that should have activated a laser to release the boost vehicle's restraining units.|
|IFT-13C||15 Dec 2004||Failure||Delayed several times from December 2003 due to bad circuitry, this test was designed to use the Orbital Sciences booster from Kwajalein to hit a target from Kodiak, Alaska. The target flew as planned but the booster failed to leave the ground. The failure was traced to a software problem on the 1553 communications data bus, which may be incapable of processing messages at a rate that is fast enough for the GMD system to work effectively.|
|IFT-14||13 Feb 2005||Failure||This test repeated IFT-13C, with a booster from Kwajalein designed to hit a target from Kodiak, Alaska. Again, the target flew as planned but the booster failed to leave the ground. The failure was traced to the arms that hold the interceptor up in the silo. When they failed to fully retract, the launch was automatically aborted.|
|FTG-02||1 Sep 2006||Success||This test involved the first ground-based interceptor launched out of Vandenberg Air Force Base to intercept a "threat-representative" target from Kodiak, Alaska. This was the first time that operational radar was used to capture targeting information. Not officially an intercept test, this was originally designed to collect data on the phenomenology of the intercept and act as a radar certification test. No decoys were used.|
|FTG-03||25 May 2007||Failure||With the same setup as FTG-02, the test target flew off-course and an intercept did not occur.|
|FTG-03A||28 Sep 2007||Success||This test was scheduled in response to the failure of FTG-03, this time with a successful intercept.|
|FTG-05||5 Dec 2008||Success||This test launched a threat-representative mock warhead from the Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska followed by a Ground-Based Interceptor from Vandenberg AFB. All components performed as designed.|
|FTG-06||31 Jan 2010||Failure||This test was to be the first to assess both a CE-II EKV and a complex target scene and the first test to use a newly developed FTF LV-2 target. While the target missile and interceptor launched and performed nominally, the Sea Based X-Band Radar did not perform as expected, and an investigation will explain the failure to intercept.|
|FTG-06a||15 Dec 2010||Failure||This test was similar to FTG-06, over a distance of 4,200 miles. While the Sea Based X-Band radar and all sensors performed as planned, the test was unable to achieve the planned intercept of a ballistic missile target.|
|FTG-07||5 Jul 2013||Failure||This intercept test used an improved CE-I EKV.|
|FTG-06b||22 Jun 2014||Success||This test is designed to demonstrate an intercept and meet the unmet objectives of FTG-06a.|
|FTG-15||30 May 2017||Success||The test involved the new CE-II Block-I version of the EKV, which executed a direct collision with the ICBM target.|
|FTG-11||25 March 2019||Success||This test used two interceptors, one to crash into a dummy target representing an incoming ICBM and another to use sensors to detect another ICBM or other countermeasures.|
|IFT-1A||24 Jun 1997||Success||This test allowed the program to assess the Boeing EKV seeker's ability to collect target phenomenological data, and evaluate target modeling and discrimination algorithms for a cluster of 10 objects.|
|IFT-2||16 Jan 1998||Success||This test allowed the program to assess the Raytheon EKV seeker's ability to collect target phenomenological data, and evaluate target modeling and discrimination algorithms for a cluster of 10 objects. As a result, Raytheon was selected over Boeing and was awarded the EKV contract.|
|BV-1||28 Apr 2001||Success||This was a ground test to certify the procedures that lead to an actual flight test, including all ground and safety checks as well as launch and safety steps. The missile was not launched.|
|BV-2||31 Aug 2001||Success||This was a flight test of three-stage Boeing Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload. An anomaly occurred in the first-stage vehicle roll control, but the second- and third-stage motors performed normally.|
|BV-3||13 Dec 2001||Failure||This flight test resulted in failure when the Boeing Booster Vehicle steered off course 30 seconds after launch and was then ordered to self-destruct off the coast of California.|
|BV-6||16 Aug 2003||Success||This was a flight test of the three-stage Orbital Sciences Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload. The launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base proceeded normally over the Pacific Ocean.|
|BV-5||9 Jan 2004||Failure||This flight test of the Lockheed Martin Booster Vehicle with a mass-simulated kill vehicle payload resulted in failure due to an apparent power drop that prevented the mock EKV from separating from the booster. The flight was delayed by the third-stage rocket motor's circuit boards.|
|IFT-13B||26 Jan 2004||Success||This was a system-level test of the Orbital Sciences booster carrying a simulated EKV from Kwajalein Atoll against a simulated target from Vandenberg AFB in California.|
|Medium-range air-launch target||8 Apr 2005||Success||This test featured a C-17 dropping a medium-range target from its rear, 800 miles (1,300 km) northwest of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.|
|CMCM-1A/FT 04-2A||4 Aug 2005||Success||This test was the first of two medium-range target vehicles.|
|CMCM-1B/FT 04-2B||18 Aug 2005||Success||This test was the second of two medium-range target vehicles.|
|FT 04-5/FTG 04-5||26 Sep 2005||Success||This test was an apparent variant of IFT-19 and featured an air-launched long-range target tracked by Cobra Dane radar.|
|FT-1||13 Dec 2005||Success||Originally designed as IFT-13A, this test featured an interceptor missile from the Ronald Reagan test site in the Marshall Islands to hit a target from Kodiak, Alaska. The operationally configured warhead and its booster left the ground successfully.|
|FTX-01/FT 04-1||23 Feb 2006||Success||Originally designed as IFT-16, then changed to a radar characterization flight test as IFT-16A, then FT 04-1, then FTX-01. This test incorporated radar and targets testing.|
|CMCM-2B/FTC-02B||13 Apr 2006||Success||This test was a radar certification flight and featured a missile system powered by a two-stage SR-19 rocket flown from the Kauai Test Facility in the Pacific Missile Range Facility. The payload included complex countermeasures, a mock reentry vehicle, and on-board sensor package.|
|CMCM-2A/FTC-02A||28 Apr 2006||Success||This test repeated FTC-02B to test its radars in the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii against a target missile that carried countermeasures, a mock warhead, and an on-board sensor package.|
|FTX-02||27 Mar 2007||Mixed||This test of the Sea-Based X-Band Radar revealed "anomalous behavior", and demonstrated a need for software modifications to improve performance.|
|FTX-03||18 Jul 2008||Success||This test demonstrated the integration of missile defense sensors to support an interceptor engagement. This revealed the success of the Sea-Based X-Band Radar to be used in future missions.|
|BVT-01||6 Jun 2010||Success||A two-stage Ground-Based Interceptor successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and after separating from the second-stage booster, the exoatmospheric kill vehicle executed a variety of maneuvers to collect data to further prove its performance in space. All components performed as designed.|
|GM CTV-01||26 Jan 2013||Success||The three-stage booster deployed the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle to a point in space and executed a variety of pre-planned maneuvers to collect performance data. Initial indications are that all components performed as designed.|
|GM CTV-02||28 Jan 2016||Failure||A long-range ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base to evaluate performance of alternate divert thrusters for the system's Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle. The test had planned for the interceptor to fly within a narrow "miss distance" of its target to test the new thrusters' effectiveness. The U.S. military initially stated the test had been a success.
But the closest the interceptor came to the target was a distance 20 times greater than what was expected. One of the four thrusters stopped working during the maneuvers, and the interceptor peeled away from its intended course, according to the Pentagon scientists. One of them said the thruster remained inoperable through the final, "homing phase" of the test, when the kill vehicle was supposed to make a close fly-by of the target. MDA acknowledged that a problem surfaced during 28 January exercise: "There was an observation unrelated to the new thruster hardware that has been investigated and successfully root-caused," the agency said in a written response to questions. "Any necessary corrective actions will be taken for the next flight test."
The system has a "single shot probability of kill" of its interceptors calculated at 56%, with the total probability of intercepting a single target, if four interceptors are launched, at 97%. Each interceptor costs approximately $75 million.
- Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), mobile land-based missile defense system
- Medium Extended Air Defense System, mobile land-based air and missile defense system
- Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, sea-based missile defense system
- A-135 anti-ballistic missile system
- A-235 anti-ballistic missile system
- S-300VM missile system
- S-400 missile system
- S-500 missile system
- Arrow (Israeli missile)
- "There is no guaranteed defence against ballistic missiles—yet". The Economist. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
- "Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) System". Missile Threat.
- "President Trump's Plans to Boost Missile Defense Could Spark Arms Race". Time. 17 January 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- Reorganization of the Missile Defense Program: Hearing Before the S. Armed Services Comm. Strategic Forces Subcomm. (statement of Ronald T. Kadish) Archived 16 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Missile Defense Agency. 13 March 2002.
- Burns, Robert (26 May 2017). "US plans first test of ICBM intercept, with NKorea on mind". Associated Press. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
- Bradner, Tim (5 June 2009). "Begich, Gates visit Alaska missile defense base". Alaska Journal of Commerce. Archived from the original on 29 November 2010.
- "Northrop Grumman Contribution to Support Missile Defense Workforce in Alaska". reuters.com. 30 October 2009. Archived from the original on 4 November 2009.
- "Commanding Alaska's Guard w/ 24/7 missile defense". BlackFive. 31 August 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- "Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Exhibit R-2 RDT&E Budget Item Justification" (PDF). dtic.mil. Defense Technical Information Center.
- "Boeing Wins Missile Deal". The Washington Post. 31 December 2008. p. D2.
- "US to beef up missile defense against NKorea".
- Eshel, Tamir (16 March 2013). "Alaska's Ground Based Interceptors to Pivot US Defenses Against North Korea". Defense Update.
- CNN, By Jethro Mullen (18 March 2013). "China: U.S. risks antagonizing North Korea". CNN.
- Shalal-Esa, Andrea (12 September 2013). "Maine among candidates named for possible East Coast missile defense sites". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Mann addresses missile defense future during symposium". www.army.mil. 12 August 2015.
- Wichner, David (26 March 2019). "ICBM target downed in key test of missile defense, Raytheon Warhead". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 26 March 2019 – via tucson.com.
- Capaccio, Anthony (6 June 2019). "As North Korea Threat Grows, U.S. Anti-Missile Warhead Stumbles". Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- PAUL MCLEARY (August 21, 2019) Pentagon Cancels Multi-Billion $ Boeing Missile Defense Program
- Loren Thompson (8 Oct 2019) Inside The U.S. Missile Defense Agency's Secret Next Generation Interceptor
- 50 threat scenarios have been defined (Classified)
- The GBIs will be Hit-to-kill
- Each GBI will have multiple warheads (multiple kill vehicles)
- The GBIs will fit in existing silos
- The GBIs are expected by 2026
- The interim GBI solution until then is to be determined
- "More Dollars, Less Sense, Individual Contract Report: Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (Missile Defense)" Archived 3 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine. United States House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight And Government Reform, June 2007.
- "GAO-13-294SP, DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs" (PDF). US Government Accountability Office. 26 March 2013. p. 51. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
- Lehner, Rick (20 December 2008). "Missile Defense Agency Successfully Completes Ground Test for Data Collection to Improve Modeling and Simulation" (PDF). Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Reif, Kingston (11 February 2014). "The Defense That Does not Defend: More problems for national missile defense". armscontrolcenter.org. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
- Hills, Amy (14 February 2014). "2015 MDA Request Ignite Old Debate On the Cost of Success". www.aviationweek.com. Penton. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- "In Their Words: Missile defense crew recounts intercontinental ballistic missile target flight test". www.army.mil. 18 December 2017.
- "Missile Defense Integrated Test Flights" (PDF). Center for Defense Information. 18 June 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2012.
- "Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD)" (PDF). U.S. Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation. 2012. p. 288. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- "Ballistic Missile Defense Intercept Flight Test Record" (PDF). Missile Defense Agency. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Missile Defense Exercise and Flight Test Successfully Completed" (PDF). Missile Defense Agency. 1 September 2006.
- "Missile Defense Flight Test Results in Successful Intercept" (PDF). Missile Defense Agency. 5 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- "Defense Acquisitions: Charting a Course for Improved Missile Defense Testing". Government Accountability Office. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- "Missile Defense Test Conducted". Missile Defense Agency. 31 January 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- "Missile Defense Test Conducted". Lompoc Record. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
- "Draft Environmental Assessment for Maintenance and Repair of the Sea-Based X-Band Radar Vessel Available for Public Comment". Missile Defense Agency. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
- "Missile Defense Test Conducted" (Press release). U.S. Department of Defense. 5 July 2013.
- "Missile Defense Test Conducted" (Press release). 5 July 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- "Unclassified Statement of Vice Admiral James D. Syring Director, Missile Defense Agency" (PDF). United States Senate via MDA.mil. pp. 5–6. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- "U.S. missile defense system destroys target in key test". Reuters. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- "US successfully intercepts ICBM in historic test". ABC News. ABC News. 30 May 2017.
- "Could FTG-15 Delays Prevent the Deployment of 44 GBIs by the End of 2017?". 2 February 2017.
- "With eyes on North Korea, U.S. successfully destroys mock ICBM over Pacific". Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- Judson, Jen (8 August 2017). "Missile takedown: Historic ICBM intercept test sends strong message to North Korea". Defense News.
- Burns, Robert (25 March 2019). "Pentagon: missile defense test succeeds in shootdown". Associated Press. Retrieved 25 March 2019 – via The Washington Post.
- Sheely, Zachary (5 April 2019). "National Guard Soldiers at forefront of most significant test in missile defense history". army.mil. United States Army. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
- Zargham, Mohammad (25 March 2019). Reese, Chris (ed.). "U.S. military says it conducts successful missile defense test". Reuters. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- Capaccio, Anthony (24 March 2019). "Trickiest U.S. Missile Defense Test Is Finally Ready to Launch". Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- "Missile Defense BV Test Flights" (PDF). Center for Defense Information. 5 May 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2012.
- Parsch, Andreas. "Boeing Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI)". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- "Orbital Successfully Launches Second Target Rocket for U.S. Missile Defense Agency's CMCM-1 Program; Two Launches in Two Weeks Conducted at Hawaii's Pacific Missile Site". Business Wire. 23 August 2005.
- "U.S. missile defense sensor test called successful". Associated Press. 18 July 2008.
- "Modified Ground-Based Interceptor Completes Successful Flight Test". Missile Defense Agency. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
- "Ground-Based Interceptor Completes Successful Flight Test". Missile Defense Agency. 26 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- "Ground-based Midcourse Defense System Conducts Successful Flight Test". Missile Defense Agency. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- "A test of America's homeland missile defense system found a problem. Why did the Pentagon call it a success?". Los Angeles Times. 6 July 2016.
- "GMD Test Cancelled by MDA". Center for Defense Information. 16 June 2008. Archived from the original on 10 December 2008.
- Samson, Victoria (16 June 2008). "GMD Test Cancelled by MDA". Archived from the original on 28 August 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ground-Based Midcourse Defense.|