Northrop Grumman Corp.’s advanced fire control products played a key role in the most challenging test to-date of the nation’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, the nation’s only defense against long-range ballistic missiles. In the system’s first intercept test using multiple sensors (past tests have used only one sensor) to track and hit a live target, the GMD fire control products (GFC) integrated data from several globally-dispersed sensors to help coordinate the overall engagement sequence and more precisely track and ultimately destroy the target. In addition, Northrop Grumman’s command launch equipment (CLE) software effectively launched the interceptor.
“The Northrop Grumman fire control products demonstrated a leap in capability today,” said Karen Williams, sector vice president and general manager of the Missile Defense Division for Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems sector. “In pulling data from four sensors, versus one, the GFC had to perform the challenging task of correlating a multitude of different track data to decide on a trajectory that would correctly position the interceptor to hit the target. This is an extremely complicated effort, and I congratulate our team for again raising the bar and successfully meeting the objectives for every test to date.”
During the GMD flight test, known as FTG-05 and conducted by the US Missile Defense Agency and The Boeing Co., a ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), CA against a target missile threat fired from a launch complex in Kodiak, AK. The test employed four sensors located at-sea and along the West Coast. The fire control system—at Ft. Greely, AK and in Colorado Springs, CO—integrated data from these sensors to help identify, track and shoot down the target. The in-flight communication system data terminal, located at VAFB, provided target-track updates during the interceptor’s flight to the target. “Our advanced software algorithms made sense of the information provided by these sensors, determined the best interceptor path, and put the kill vehicle in the right spot to make the hit,” said Steve Owens, GMD Systems program director for Northrop Grumman in Huntsville, AL.