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GBI Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV)

The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), the pioneer of Raytheonís kill vehicles, is the intercept component of the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI). 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Raytheonís Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) stands ready to defend the United States against intercontinental ballistic missiles as a mission-critical component of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD).

If a threat is detected using one of GMDís multiple land, sea- and space-based sensors, a Ground-Based Interceptor will be launched into space using a three-stage solid rocket booster. Once outside of the Earthís atmosphere, operating at the edge of space at hypersonic speeds, the EKVís job begins.

The EKV seeks out the target using multi-color sensors, a cutting-edge onboard computer, and a rocket motor used only for steering in space. It hones in on its target, and with pinpoint precision, destroys it using nothing more than the force of a massive collision. No traditional warhead is needed.

The Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) is the next-generation, cost-effective solution that will leverage mature, proven components to simplify design and improve reliability. From drawing board to deployment, Raytheon has the technical talent, proven success and infrastructure to deliver a simpler, easier-to-produce next generation kill vehicle with a significant reduction in cost. The redesigned kill vehicle that is more capable at half the cost of the current one and would be ready to fly in 2018.

The Ground Based Interceptor [GBI], the national missile defense weapon element, consists of an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) launched by a fixed, land- based booster. The EKV has a sensitive, long-range electro-optical infrared seeker which allows the EKV to acquire and track targets, and to discriminate between the intended target reentry vehicle and other objects, such as tank fragments or decoys. This enables the GBI to be launched against a cluster of objects and subsequently identify and intercept the targeted reentry vehicle. The EKV would also receive one or more in-flight target updates from other ground and space-based sensors, enhance the probability of intercepting the target. Based on this received data and its own sensors, the kill vehicle uses small on-board rockets to maneuvers so as to collide with the target, with both demolished in the high-speed collision.

Raytheon's Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) is the intercept component of the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI), the weapon element of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System. Its mission in the defense of the nation is to engage high-speed ballistic missile warheads in the midcourse phase of flight and to destroy them using only the force of impact, or hit-to-kill. EKV consists of an infrared seeker in a flight package used to detect and discriminate the incoming warhead from other objects. The EKV also has its own propulsion, communications link, discrimination algorithms, guidance and control system and computers to support target selection and intercept.

The EKV weighs approximately 140 pounds, is 55 inches in length and approximately 24 inches in diameter. By another account, it is approximately 52 inches in length, 24 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 120 lbs. The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle is supposed to fly through space at 4500 miles an hour and smash into an incoming warhead.

The EKV seeker is composed of focal plane arrays and a cryogenic cooling assembly attached to an optical telescope, supported by hardware and software processing. The EKV will use an on-board navigation and target selection systems to locate the target, and destroy it. The exoatmospheric kill vehicle was the weapon component of the GMD interceptor that attempts to detect and destroy the threat reentry vehicle through a hit-to-kill impact. The prime contractor identified three critical technologies pertaining to the operation of the exoatmospheric kill vehicle.

Infrared seeker, which is the "eyes" of the kill vehicle. The seeker is designed to support kill vehicle functions like tracking and target discrimination. The primary subcomponents of the seeker are the infrared sensors, a telescope, and the cryostat that cools down the sensors.

On-board discrimination, which is needed to identify the true warhead from among decoys and associated objects. Discrimination is a critical function of the hit-to-kill mission that requires the successful execution of a sequence of functions, including target detection, target tracking, and the estimation of object features. As such, successful operation of the infrared seeker is a prerequisite for discrimination.

Guidance, navigation, and control subsystem, which is a combination of hardware and software that enables the kill vehicle to track its position and velocity in space and to physically steer itself into the designated target. All three kill vehicle technologies had been demonstrated by 2003 to some extent in actual integrated flight tests on near-production-representative kill vehicles.

The new interceptor would have effectiveness similar to earlier interceptors but would achieve it by decreasing the mass of the interceptor and increasing the speed at which the interceptor travels. This interceptor may use existing or new boosters; however, a new EKV would likely be designed for the interceptor. The EKV would be adaptable and could be launched from a space-based platform.

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products produces the body structure for the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, a critical component of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program within the Missile Defense Agency.

MDA is developing an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), which acts as the kinetic energy weapon on an interceptor. EKVs could be launched as hit-to-kill weapons from a space-based platform. The KEI is a potential space-based defensive weapon to counter threat ballistic missiles during boost phase. The development of midcourse and terminal phase defensive weapons may be included as well. The EKV is mounted on a defensive missile, is delivered by that missile to the midcourse (or exoatmospheric) phase of an incoming missile's trajectory, and uses a seeker in a separate flight package to guide and propel itself into an incoming enemy warhead, thus destroying the warhead above the earth's atmosphere.

Testing of a space-based weapons platform would involve ground-based testing including modeling and simulations of space-based technology, as well as multiple launches to emplace prototype technology in orbit. The prototype would then be tested in increasing realistic scenarios involving simulated and actual intercepts of targets.

MDA would deploy EKVs and space-based launch platforms to deploy a space-based weapons component, currently envisioned as the KEI. The MDA would also obtain launch services to deploy the launch platform satellite and weapons components into their orbits. They could use Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles launched from Vandenberg AFB and Cape Canaveral.

In October 1990, the Department of the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command (acting as an agent for BMDO) awarded three parallel contracts for the design, development, and demonstration testing of sensor designs for an EKV to be used in National Missile Defense. These contracts contemplated one or more "downselects" to eventually choose one contractor to build an EKV using the successful design. The original awardees were Martin Marietta (eliminated in an initial "downselect" in 1995), Hughes Missile Systems Company (now Raytheon), and Rockwell International (now Boeing). None of the entities originally selected to design EKV sensors for National Missile Defense exist in the same form today due to consolidations in the defense industry during the 1990s.

By 1997, BMDO had decided to use a Lead Systems Integrator (LSI) contractor to manage the National Missile Defense program, rather than using the Army for this purpose. Boeing was awarded the LSI contract in April 1998, and was directed to complete the competition to select an EKV contractor by February 1999. Thus, in its capacity as LSI, Boeing was tasked to select either Raytheon or another Boeing unit to build the EKV.

In late 1998 - after 8 years of funding and administering parallel research and development contracts for an EKV for National Missile Defense and 2 months prior to the scheduled completion of the competition - BMDO abandoned its planned competition to select the most promising EKV for use in follow-on missile defense programs. This decision was made by Boeing LSI, with BMDO's concurrence. This decision was made shortly after Boeing disclosed to the government that employees of its EKV team had obtained and misused proprietary information developed by the other EKV competitor, Raytheon.

Competing EKV designs were to be evaluated in a series of test flights in 1998 and 1999. Hughes Missile Systems Company (HMSC) and Boeing North American (BNA) were under contract to deliver sensors for flight tests. EKV sensor flight tests in May 1997 (Boeing sensor) and January 1998 (Hughes sensor) mitigate EKV risk by demonstrating seeker operation in the tactical environment and target selection algorithm performance against realistic targets. The EKV intercept flights in May 1998 (BNA EKV) and January 1999 (HMSC EKV) were to incrementally demonstrate NMD system capability, beginning with a limited BM/C3 operating on-line. The government's strategy was to down-select subsequent to the HMSC EKV flight test in January 1999. The winner of this down-selection would fly its EKV on the integrated flight test in late 1999. By the year 2000, flight tests were to demonstrate NMD interoperability between the EKV, on-line BM/C3, the NMD Radar Technology Demonstrator (RTD) and on-line medium wavelength infrared (MWIR) SMTS.

The planned competition was abandoned after BMDO, Boeing LSI, and Raytheon learned of the Boeing EKV team's misuse of Raytheon proprietary information, specifically a plan for testing Raytheon's EKV's software that was submitted by Raytheon to the Army and later discovered in the offices of the Boeing EKV team. The final RFP was not issued, proposals were not submitted, no formal criteria were used to evaluate the two systems, and there was no formal technical comparison or analysis used by the decisionmaker to select the EKV. Raytheon received the award -- after Boeing LSI and BMDO were unable to mitigate, to Raytheon's satisfaction - which BMDO made a condition of moving forward - the possible competitive harm arising from the Boeing EKV team's misuse of Raytheon's proprietary information.

At the point when the competition was abandoned, the U.S. government had spent approximately $400 million each, or a total of $800 million, to develop and test the Raytheon and Boeing EKVs. Although several government officials recommended debarring a component of Boeing from federal government contracting, or pursuing a financial settlement from the company, all such recommendations were ultimately withdrawn.

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