Boeing Tests GMD Silo And Launch System Components
Boeing [BA] tested modified underground silo and launch system components for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor, the company announced.This opens the way for the silo system to engage in a flight test this summer, according to Boeing, the prime GMD contractor. Northrop Grumman [NOC]., Raytheon [RTN] and others also are involved.
Tests validated several silo modifications, including operation of the lateral support group, the three arms that stabilize the interceptor inside the silo, and operation of the silo closure mechanism, or clamshell doors.
These tests are part of a rigorous ground test protocol to ensure mission readiness before the actual GMD system flight test, according to Boeing.
“This ground test milestone demonstrates reliability and repeatability of a ‘test-as-you-fly’ integrated system,” said Scott Fancher, Boeing GMD vice president and program director.
“The incremental and deliberate testing of each component as it is integrated into the system will ensure success when the system is called on to perform,” he said. A series of six live-fire tests that trigger the synchronized launch sequence release of the lateral support group arms and the rapid opening of the clamshell doors was first conducted on the test silo in Huntsville, Ala., and then verified on a silo at the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. , according to the company.
The Reagan site includes four silos currently housing two interceptor missiles that, when activated, will serve as part of the overall Ballistic Missile Defense System.
The other two silos will be used for operationally realistic testing, but also can hold operational interceptors if required. Interceptors were not inside the silos undergoing tests.
The missile defense complex at Vandenberg is one of two U.S. installations with long-range interceptor missiles. The other site, at Fort Greely, Alaska, currently has nine interceptor missiles fielded, with plans to emplace additional interceptors during the next three years.
Silos at both sites will be retrofitted with the tested systems.