Pentagon Suspends Shipments of Missile Interceptor Warhead

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has directed contractor Raytheon to cease delivery of a long-range missile interceptor warhead following two test intercept failures, the Arizona Daily Star reported on Tuesday (see GSN, March 28).

The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle was developed for integration with the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which is intended to counter long-range missile attacks. Intercept trials of the "hit to kill" warhead in January 2010 and last December both ended in failure (see GSN, Dec. 16, 2010).

Officials with the Defense Department branch are still probing the failed December intercept. The January failure has been attributed to problems with sensor handling and issues with the kill vehicle.

The schedule for restarting the delivery order will be determined by the conclusions of a "failure review" into the December test, MDA spokesman Rick Lehner said. A decisive report on the investigation is not expected for weeks or months, he said.

An updated "capability enhanced" kill vehicle was employed in the two unsuccessful trials, the newspaper reported. The warhead struck its mark in an initial flight trial in September 2009.

Eight out of the 15 intercept tests to date of the GMD system have been successful. The system encompasses 30 long-range interceptors deployed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and at Fort Greely, Alaska (David Wichner, Arizona Daily Star, April 5).

April 5, 2011
About

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has directed contractor Raytheon to cease delivery of a long-range missile interceptor warhead following two test intercept failures, the Arizona Daily Star reported on Tuesday (see GSN, March 28).