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Boost-Phase Intercept

Boost Phase Intercept (BPI) is a concept in which a hostile Theater Ballistic Missile (TBM) is intercepted during its boost phase of flight. This advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) assessed the feasibility of intercepting ballistic missiles before they could deploy submunitions or other countermeasures. Although the Air Force and Navy concluded the system was technically feasible, they determined the number of aircraft required to provide an effective defense capability was excessive. A decision was made not to proceed with the phase II ACTD, a $400 million prototype system demonstration.

During boost phase, a TBM is a relatively large and vulnerable target - it does not maneuver, and its exhaust plume presents a very high infrared (IR) signature. The need for BPI capability is driven by the potential for post-boost countermeasures to defeat currently planned TMD systems. The BPI concept offers several advantages. One, the lethality challenge is greatly simplified destruction of the TBM can be achieved by direct hits on the target warhead or by sending interceptor warhead fragments into the target booster fuel tanks, guidance system or the rocket motor. Two, a successful BPI campaign eases the requirements placed on a terminal missile defense system and provides an answer to many of the measures an enemy can adopt in order to counter terminal defenses, including the use of decoys, penetration aids, and advanced submunitions. And three, the TBM boost phase of flight takes place over enemy territory.

Along with attack operations, Boost Phase Intercept (BPI) concept is the only means of destroying hostile missiles in enemy territory. The most important technologies for capable BPI engagements are airborne surveillance and fire control radar, target detection and classification algorithms, and interceptor kill vehicles capable of high velocity endo- and exo-atmospheric intercepts. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) armed with interceptors show near term promise.

The BPI Phase I ACTD evaluated the affordability and assessed the operational utility and mission effectiveness of BPI engagements. The BPI ACTD technical approach employed a high speed tactical missile with a kinetic kill vehicle carried on an airbreathing platform such as the F-14 or F-15. The missile was capable of velocities in excess of 3 km/s and a range of 120 km, and was designed to be a precursor to an objective system with a 5.5 km/s velocity and a 250 km range. On-board and off-board sensors were used to detect, track, and provide in-flight updates. The BPI Phase I was completed in fourth quarter FY95.

A recent Israeli follow-on BPI effort showed the feasibility and utility of using high-altitude, long endurance UAVs to perform the missile defense mission. The effort also concluded that such a system could be very complementary and cost effective to terminal missile defense systems. These efforts were performed during FY94-95.

The UAV-Based Boost Phase Intercept (BPI) program covers Israeli Cooperative BPI, and US BPI. Israeli Cooperative BPI is a joint U.S./Government of Israel (GOI) BPI program which involves future development and refinement (risk mitigation) of the Israeli Boost Phases Intercept System (IBIS) concept which is planned to destroy tactical ballistic missiles in the boost phase of flight, before engine cutoff, preferably while in enemy territory. This project is based on the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) armed with on-board interceptors to provide the means of destroying enemy missiles in their boosting phase of flight. The first task of this two part project will provide risk mitigation in the development of the GOI's UAV BPI. This program is a 'hedge' for the ABL program - conducting such cooperative activities allows both countries to mitigate the risk of developing UAV-based BPI systems individually. The GOI will take the lead on risk mitigation of the interceptor while the U.S. will lead for the Infrared Search and Track (IRST) sensor activities in other system elements, such as BMC4I and system integration will be shared. The US and GOI will share costs.

The U.S. UAV-based BPI system concept develops the system requirements for the total concept, kinetic energy interceptors, UAVs, search and track sensors, Battle Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (BMC4I), and the concept of operations (CONOPS) based on readily available U.S. technologies.

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