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US conducts ground-based missile interceptor test

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The Missile Defence Agency successfully conducted a flight test of a three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. A US MDA photo

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA (BNS): The US has conducted a successful flight test of its three-stage ground-based interceptor missile system last week.

The missile defence system was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on January 26.

The test, designated Ground-Based Midcourse Defence Control Test Vehicle (GM CTV)-01, was part of an extensive test series initiated after the Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor (FTG)-06a failure in December 2010, the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) said.

No target missile was used during the latest test.

After performing fly out manoeuvres, the three-stage booster deployed the exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) to a designated point in space. After separating from the booster, the EKV executed a variety of pre-planned manoeuvres to collect performance data in space, the MDA said.

Data from the flight test will be used to evaluate the EKV system performance in a flight environment in future intercept missions, it added.

The Ground-based Midcourse Defence (GMD) system is the United States' only defence against long-range ballistic missile threats.

According to Boeing, the prime contractor for the GMD programme since 2001, GMD is an integral element of the US' layered ballistic missile defence architecture. With interceptors deployed at Vandenberg and at Fort Greely, Alaska, the programme consists of command-and-control facilities, communications terminals and a 20,000-mile fiber-optic communications network that interface with ballistic missile defence radars and other sensors.

Flight testing of the system was halted in early 2011 after a guidance error resulted in a failed intercept in the December 2010 test.

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