Boeing unveils new defense system against intercontinental ballistic missiles
Boeing and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have successfully unveiled a new interceptor missile for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, designed to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles in space during the initial phase of flight.
The mission of the GMD system is sometimes described as “hitting the bullet with the bullet,” meaning the interceptor missile must accurately hit an intercontinental ballistic missile flying at hypersonic speeds.
The GMD system is more complex. Ground-based early-warning radars and X-band radars are used to detect, track, and calculate the optimal trajectory for subsequent interception of an enemy intercontinental ballistic missile in space with the highest probability of destroying it.
However, all modern intercontinental ballistic missiles perform in-flight anti-missile maneuvers that make interception difficult, so GMD must have greater flexibility to engage different targets.
The U.S. currently has 44 interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, with an additional 64 missiles on standby. Their main purpose is protection of the USA from occasional launches from the territory of the so called rogue countries, for example from North Korea.
According to experts, the GMD have a 56 percent probability of engaging one interceptor missile and a 97 percent chance of engaging four. Because they are three-stage, Boeing is working with the Pentagon to improve their effectiveness and ability to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles earlier in flight.
With the updated software, interceptor missile operators will now be able to select a “three-stage” or “two-stage” flight depending on the situation in real time.