U.S. Missile Defense Agency reports successful test of ground-based ICBM interceptors

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) reports that it successfully launched two ground-based interceptors (GBIs) in rapid succession on Monday, March 25 from Vandenberg Air Force Base (California) against a simulated intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from a test site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

The 'lead' Ground-based Interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., March 25, 2019, in the first-ever salvo engagement test of a threat-representative ICBM target. The two GBIs successfully intercepted a target launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. Image: Missile Defense Agency

The test was the first-ever salvo engagement test of a threat-representative ICBM target.

Monday's test, MDA officials said, meant to ensure that if multiple enemy missiles were in the air, the sensors of the U.S. ground-based interceptors would be able to distinguish the enemy's incoming missiles from other missiles and electronic clutter in the environment.

“This was the first GBI salvo intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target, and it was a critical milestone,” said MDA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves. “The system worked exactly as it was designed to do, and the results of this test provide evidence of the practicable use of the salvo doctrine within missile defense. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat.”

The MDA says that program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the March 25 test.