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Because targets are test assets, they would not be deployed in the BMDS in the same way as weapons or sensors. Target missiles would be used to provide realistic threat challenges for testing new and evolving interceptor missile and sensor components that would comprise the BMDS. Target missiles would be used to validate the capabilities of the BMDS missile defense sensors and weapons. Target missiles typically mimic a possible threat, both in physical size and performance characteristics.

A wide variety of target missiles would be used to support the development and test requirements of various BMDS elements, and validate their design and operational effectiveness. Targets would be used to test how well the BMDS can track the threat missile, communicate the threat to the appropriate ground command, and employ an interceptor to engage the threat. Targets can be launched from air, ground and sea platforms. The availability of multiple platform options allows the MDA to develop challenging and creative test scenarios, including salvos (i.e., simultaneous discharge of weapons), and also provides numerous viable options for test events to ensure safe testing.

A typical target missile consists of one or more boosters and a target test object. Boosters are the rocket motors that sequentially activate to launch the missile. Target test objects are the parts of target missiles that are designed to represent threat warheads or reentry vehicles. (The term reentry vehicle is used in conjunction with threat missile.) A target test object typically separates from its booster(s); but some targets are non-separating. Separating targets can be single-stage, meaning that they have one motor that initiates flight, or multiple-stage, with two or more motors that fire sequentially. Multiple stages allow a target missile to fly at higher velocities and altitudes, and for longer distances. Once the motor on a single-stage target has used all of its propellant, the spent stage may be jettisoned or released from the test object and falls back to Earth, often breaking up into small pieces before it reaches the surface of the designated test area.

For targets with multiple stages, the first stage operates similar to a single stage target. However, after the first stage uses all of its propellant, that stage is jettisoned and the second stage or motor is ignited and the target continues on its path. This sequence of events is repeated until all of the stages have been used.

The target test object would separate from the booster at a designated point in its flight. Test objects typically consist of steel or aluminum housing assembly, thermal sensors, guidance and control electronics, radio transmitters and receivers, a power supply (which may include lithium or nickel-cadmium batteries), and a Flight Termination System (FTS).

Target test objects may use countermeasures or decoys to imitate threat missiles as well as simulants to imitate the characteristics of the payload of a threat missile. Countermeasures are devices that accompany the target missile during its flight and attempt to confuse the sensors and C2 systems, making a successful intercept more difficult. Simulants are substances that mimic the significant characteristics of chemical, nuclear, biological or explosive payloads carried by threat missiles.

Preparing targets for flight test events would involve designing, prototyping, developing, procuring, certifying and qualifying them. Targets would be developed in response to the needs of BMDS and element testing requirements. To reduce costs, several targets would use retired components from other programs, including the U.S. Army Pershing II program, U.S. Navy Polaris program, Trident-1 (C-4), and U.S. Air Force Minuteman II program, as well as some Foreign Material Acquisitions. This practice would not only reduce the amount of raw material used but would also limit the amount of production needed to develop realistic threat targets. These retired components may be used in their original configuration, or may undergo minor reconfiguration, depending on the specifications of the test.

Every target system currently built meets unique test requirements; therefore, production of target systems is item-by-item and not in quantities. MDA is developing a family of targets to provide a standard target missile to support short-, medium-, and long-range test requirements.

Advanced target applications in progress include short- and long-range air-launched targets and liquid fuel boosters, as well as a multi-mode medium-range target. MDA is developing a family of targets that provides standard target missiles to support short, medium and long range test requirements. Mobile launch/basing platforms are being considered, along with the development and future procurement of advanced countermeasures and payloads.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 13:05:31 ZULU