Launches

By | December 4, 2006 | Uncategorized

Excalibur Scores In Test Launch, Raytheon Announces

Raytheon Co. [RTN] Missile Systems and BAE Systems-Bofors successfully fired the first extended-range, GPS-guided Excalibur projectiles at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.

Excalibur is the next-generation family of projectiles for Army and Marine Corps artillery.

The so-called Guided Series-6 test of the Excalibur Block Ia-2 consisted of two inert rounds configured with tactical base and live base bleed. Base bleed is a solid fuel that burns in the base of the projectile, expelling gas that reduces drag with the result of extending range. The primary test objectives were to demonstrate the navigational functionality throughout the flight with live base bleed and to verify base-bleed performance.

“Continued test successes demonstrate Excalibur’s ability to meet the full Block Ia requirements,” said Lt. Col. Joe Minus, Army product manager for the Excalibur program. “The base bleed with charge five will propel Excalibur beyond the 40-kilometer (24.8 miles) objective range from the current U.S. howitzers.”

The Archer, the Swedish 52-caliber howitzer, will achieve an Excalibur range of approximately 33 miles (50 kilometers). The Block Ia-2 tests will include full system performance testing, to include maximum range shots from the Archer, and will be conducted in parallel with Block Ia-1 urgent fielding.

The Excalibur program is responding to an urgent request from the warfighter to accelerate fielding because of the projectile’s better than 10-meter (33 feet) accuracy that is not available from any other artillery projectile. With its accuracy and increased effectiveness, Excalibur provides operational flexibility and reduces the logistical burden for deployed ground forces, according to Raytheon.

It also reduces collateral damage through increased precision, near-vertical descent and optimized fragmentation pattern. Excalibur Ia-1 is to be fielded to deployed forces in early 2007. The extended range of the Ia-2 Excalibur, with a planned initial operational capability in fiscal year 2008, will enable optimal positioning of forces and further extend a maneuver unit’s tactical reach.

During the test, one round was fired with the modular artillery charge system, charge three, to approximately 5 miles (8 kilometers) in range, the system’s minimum range requirement with live base bleed. The second round was fired with a charge four at 45 degrees cannon tube quadrant elevation, a low elevation to accommodate range limitations at Yuma, and achieved a range of approximately 16 miles (25 kilometers).

Aegis BMD Test Seen Likely This Week

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system likely will be tested this week, a Missile Defense Agency (MDA) source said.

If successful, that Wednesday test would make a resounding eight successful kills of target missiles out of nine attempts.

The test would bolster the MDA move to erect a multi-layered defense against ballistic missiles that might be launched by a rogue state such as North Korea against the United States, its military forces, allied nations, or U.S. interests.

This test would come as Democrats are poised to seize control of Congress following their successes in the November general election.

The incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), has expressed skepticism as to whether the emergent missile defense systems will work if an enemy launches a ballistic missile toward the United States.

Levin has said testing of BMD systems often hasn’t been realistic, pointing out that the ground-based BMD system has failed in some tests. (Please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Monday, Nov. 13, 2006, page 1.)

But the sea-based Aegis weapon control system by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] has a lustrous reputation, with repeated successes. Tests of the Aegis system have become more realistic, with the test this week likely to involve a multi-mission challenge to take out a ballistic missile target and a cruise missile target, simultaneously.

As Democrats prepare to take over Congress in January, there also has been success in the ground-based BMD shield.

Just this month, the MDA reported that it completed Distributed Ground Test 01, an important test of hardware, software, and communication interfaces of the BMD system against simulated ballistic missile threats.

That was the first BMD integrated ground test employing operational BMD systems and communications to assess system functionality and interoperability under increasingly stressing conditions.

The test was conducted on Oct. 23 through Nov. 9 from the MDA Combined Test Force Ground Test Center located at the Joint National Integration Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

This global test involved 17 distributed sites, including two ships, satellites and 3,500 miles of communications and network infrastructure located in seven states and Japan.

A primary focus of this test was to assess the execution and functionality of various BMD engagement sequence groups.

An engagement sequence group identifies the combination of weapons and sensors that work together to detect, track and intercept an enemy missile.

Integrating varying components dramatically expands detection and engagement zones beyond what could be achieved by standalone elements.

For example, the test recently completed successfully exercised the capability of a forward-based AN/TPY-2 transportable X-band radar to provide data to the BMD command, control, battle management and communications element, which then forwarded information to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element, the long-range interceptor element designed to defend the United States against a long-range ballistic missile attack.

The GMD system involves most of the largest defense contractors: The Boeing Co. [BA] is the prime contractor. Raytheon Co. [RTN] works on kill vehicles and radars. Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] provides battle management command and control. Lockheed provides booster vehicles. Orbital Sciences Corp. [ORB] also contributes to the booster vehicles element. Bechtel Corp. provides facilities design and construction, while Teledyne Brown Engineering, a unit of Teledyne Technologies Inc. [TDY], provides integrated systems testing capabilities and technical services.

The three-week test completed last month also assessed the ability of the BMD system to execute multiple engagement sequence groups simultaneously against multiple raid sizes using operational BMD communications, including concurrent engagements using Ground-Based Interceptors and Standard Missile-3 missiles designed for use aboard Navy cruisers and destroyers.

Participants from the ballistic missile defense operational community included the Operational Test Agencies, the Northern Command, the Pacific Command and the Strategic Command.

The test provided a significant opportunity for warfighters from each service, in particular the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, to practice and refine tactics, techniques and procedures.

Raytheon HARM Missile Scores In Test

The High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) demonstrated enhanced navigation accuracy in a test, Raytheon Co. [RTN] announced.

HARM hit a target without requiring radar guidance.

Called HDAM, for HARM Destruction of enemy air defense Attack Module, the new variant adds INS/GPS (inertial navigation system/global positioning system) capability to the battle-proven HARM, greatly improving its effectiveness while significantly reducing collateral damage and the threat to friendly troops, according to Raytheon.

The test flight took place at the China Lake Test Range, Calif., where the missile, launched from an F-16 strike fighter aircraft, was fired against a simulated surface-to- surface missile launcher.

That target was not emitting radar signals, which is the normal target locater used by the current HARM system. In this case the missile was given the target geographic location.

After launch the missile flew a range-enhancing profile and the fuze successfully activated over the target well within the required parameters.

Pieces of the destroyed target were observed flying through the air, which was significant as the missile was not carrying a warhead.

In the first test on June 20, HDAM, also launched from an F-16, successfully faced two radar sources and selected the correct one. The test demonstrated that the added INS/GPS capability ensures that the intended target is attacked instead of other radar sources.

“The combination of the excellent long range targeting provided by the F-16, and HDAM’s supersonic precision attack, gives the warfighter a way to destroy critical targets at extended ranges,” said Jeff Wadsworth, HARM program director at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz. “The target no longer needs to identify itself by radar emission to be neutralized.”

He added that the missile “can quickly be adapted to a new role as a high-speed strike weapon with impressive range,” and “Raytheon is already researching new technology that gives the HDAM increased effectiveness over a wide range of target sets.”

Raytheon Missile Systems has produced more than 22,800 HARMs since 1985 for customers that include the Air Force, Navy, Marines and seven international allies.

Boeing And Lockheed Finish Forming Launch Alliance Joint Venture

The Boeing Co. [BA] and Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] finished their long-proposed joint venture for launch services, the companies announced.

This joint effort, United Launch Alliance, LLC, (ULA) combines the expendable launch vehicle businesses of the two largest defense contractors on the planet.

That means the alliance will combine production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with U.S. government launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets.

It was a long time in coming. The proposed joint venture was first announced in May 2005, and had to survive questions raised about anti-trust concerns and more, which involved reviews by the Department of Defense and many agencies.

Michael C. Gass was named alliance president and chief executive officer. Daniel J. Collins was named chief operating officer.

ULA will be headquartered in Denver where most engineering and administrative activities will be consolidated. Major assembly and integration operations will be located primarily at the Delta manufacturing and assembly facility in Decatur, Ala.

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