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US tests ground-based missile defence system

The two-stage ground-based interceptor lifts off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday. A USMDA Photo

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE (BNS): US has successfully test fired the two-stage ground-based interceptor (GBI) of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system – the country's only long-range ballistic missile defence system.

The weapon was test launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California at 3:25 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, Boeing, prime contractor for the missile defence system, said in a statement.

The test was jointly conducted by Boeing and the US Missile Dfense Agency (USMDA).

The interceptor, carrying an operational Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) payload, measured performance data for the new two-stage design as well as how an operationally configured EKV operates under stressful boundary conditions, the statement said.

The two-stage GBI has more than 95 percent commonality with the three-stage GBIs currently deployed in underground silos at Vandenberg and at Fort Greely, Alaska, and uses existing flight-qualified components, it said.

No target missile was launched for Sunday's flight test of the missile interceptor, the USMDA said.

The GBI has been designed to intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missile warheads outside Earth's atmosphere. The weapon uses ‘hit-to-kill’ technology to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles in mid-course flight.

The system has so far achieved a total of eight successful intercept tests, including three successful intercept tests with the operationally configured interceptor.

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