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Lockheed and MDA conduct successful test of new air-launched missile target prototype

A prototype of the Missile Defence Agency's air-launched Extended Medium-range Ballistic Missile target, developed by Lockheed Martin, is released from a C-17 aircraft over Yuma Proving Ground in a successful test. Photo: Missile Defence Agency.

HUNTSVILLE, ALASKA (BNS): Lockheed Martin and the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) have successfully tested a prototype air-launched Extended Medium-range Ballistic Missile (eMRBM) target at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

In the test, a full-scale prototype of the eMRBM target was released from the cargo bay of a US Air Force C-17 aircraft at 25,000 feet. The system's parachutes deployed, and the prototype successfully separated from the carriage extraction system.

The prototype is a replica of the missile target, without propulsion, that is being used to test and validate the air-launch equipment and carriage extraction system in preparation for the maiden flight of the eMRBM missile target planned for later this year.

"This new target is designed to provide the threat realism that is essential to ensuring that missile defence systems are developed against accurate representations of the systems they would likely encounter in an operational environment," John Holly, vice president of Missile Defence Systems and deputy for Strategic and Missile Defence Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, was quoted as saying in the company news release.

Lockheed Martin is developing the air-launched eMRBM target for the MDA for testing of the Ballistic Missile Defence System to enable warfighters to gain experience with system performance in realistic scenarios.

"The eMRBM air-launch equipment and carriage extraction system performed nominally in this test, verifying system performance and preparing the launch team for future mission operations," added Dr. Patricia Dare, Lockheed Martin's Targets and Countermeasures Programme Director.

Supporting Lockheed Martin and the MDA in the test were the US Air Force, the US Army and subcontractors Orbital Sciences Corp. and Dynetics.

Under the Targets and Countermeasures Prime Contract, Lockheed Martin is developing and producing a total of 17 missile targets of various types and ranges, including five eMRBM targets. Since the prime contract was awarded in 2003, the company has delivered and launched 27 missile targets in tests of the Ballistic Missile Defence System. Prior to that the company produced and launched 17 missile targets under other contracts.

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