Off the Mark

The US ballistic missile defense system failed to intercept a long-range target missile during a test last week over the Pacific Ocean, announced the Pentagon. The July 5 test, the first of its kind since the previous unsuccessful shootdown attempt in December 2010, involved the BMDS’ Ground-based Midcourse Defense element, which is designed to defend the US homeland against limited long-range ballistic missile attacks. The Pentagon launched the target missile from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands; the ground-based interceptor missile lifted off from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., for the planned shootdown in space over the Pacific. However, “an intercept was not achieved,” states DOD’s release. “Program officials will conduct an extensive review to determine the cause or causes of any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept,” states the release. The GBI carried Raytheon’s first-generation Capability Enhancement I Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, which sits atop the operational GBIs in silos in Alaska and California. Raytheon is developing the second-generation CE II EKV that the Pentagon plans to fly in an intercept test in Fiscal 2014, said a company official during a briefing at the Paris Air Show last month. (See also Missile Defense Kill Vehicle Tested.)