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Space-Based Theater Warning System

Working with the U.S. Air Force to further develop the Central Tactical Processing Program, Aerojet developed the ALERT (Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater) system to provide the warfighter immediate access to critical information and enhanced space support. ALERT is a ground-based processing station using satellite data to provide improved detection, identification and tracking of ballistic missiles in support of theater missile defense. In addition to providing early warning to areas under attack, ALERT provides more accurate locations for targeting launch systems or cueing radars associated with interceptors.

ALERT is operated by the 11th Space Warning Squadron at Falcon Air Force Base in Colorado on a 24-hour basis, and is supported by Aerojet's Azusa and Colorado Springs facilities. Currently using Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites, ALERT will perform the same real-time tactical applications for future space-based sensor systems.The heart of ALERT is the Central Tactical Processing Element (CTPE) located in the National Test Facility. The CTPE is composed of commercial-off-the-shelf telemetry hardware and Onyx computers processing data from all DSP satellites simultaneously and performing multiple sensor tracking of tactical ballistic missiles. Although tactical missiles take only a few minutes to hit a target, ALERT processors crunch 1.5 billion operations per second and give warfighters enough time to detect and shoot down the missiles.

Despite the success of DSP satellites detecting every SCUD missile during Operation Desert Storm, there remained a need to provide more timely and accurate information. ALERT is a solution to improving and enhancing sensor processing from DSP spacecraft to optimize space-based warning support for theater commanders. ALERT not only enhances the tactical application of Air Force Space Command's warning capabilities using improved DSP sensor data processing to support theater missile defense responsibilities, it also corrects space operations deficiencies identified during Desert Storm.

Central Tactical Processing Element Components Mission Theater Missile Defense Support ALERT System Benefits


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Implemented by Charles P. Vick, Sara D. Berman, and
Christina Lindborg, 1997 Scoville Fellow
Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Tuesday, March 24, 1998 7:05:11 PM