What to Know:
The United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has reported that it carried out a successful test intercept of a Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) by an upgraded Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) on Monday, adding that the test “demonstrated the ability of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) capability to engage threats faster.”
The test was carried out from Vandenberg Space Force, California, and used a Capability Enhanced-II Block 1 Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle and marked the first time that a three-stage GBI operated in two-stage mode, which means that “the third stage was commanded not to ignite and allowed earlier release of the kill vehicle, providing closer range engagements.”
Likewise, this was the first integrated GMD flight test using sensor data from the Army Navy/ Transportable Radar Surveillance Model-2 Forward Based Mode with and Sea-Based X-Band radar with upgrades.
Yesterday, the US Missile Defense Agency tested a new GBI interceptor missile against a target missile, which was simulating a medium-range ballistic missile pic.twitter.com/bwoiogRc9q
— OSINTNic (@OSINTNic) December 12, 2023
“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,” said MDA Director Lieutenant General Heath Collins.
General Glen VanHerck, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, also stated that “Today’s test highlights U.S. Northern Command’s close coordination and collaboration with the Missile Defense Agency and demonstrates our continued commitment to countering ballistic missile threats to the homeland.”
Why Does This Matter?
The GMD was designed to protect the homeland against ballistic missile threats from what the United States considers “rogue countries,” such as Iran and North Korea. This latest test intercept showcased advancements in sensor to sensor response times, as well as an increase in engagement space, which ultimately creates a faster and more effective intercept of ballistic missile threats.
As the MDA states, however, the “GMD is neither intended for, nor capable of, defeating large and sophisticated ICBM, air-, or sea-launched ballistic missile threats from Russia and the People’s Republic of China. The United States relies on strategic deterrence to address those threats.”