Subject: Kaminski table of hit-to-kill tests
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 15:57:30 EDT
From: George Lewis <[email protected]>
In looking at the Kaminski chart of hit-to-kill tests
there appear to be two errors:
(1) The order of the ERIS tests is reversed. The first ERIS
test was a hit, while the second was the miss.
(2) Kaminski's chart shows four ERINT tests, the first two
misses, and the last two hits. As far as I can determine
there were only three ERINT tests against missile targets,
of which the first was a miss, and the second and third were
hits. Certainly this is what all the reporting at the time
Following is my running chronology of hit-to-kill missile
tests. The tests on the Kaminski chart are indicated by a
"***" at the beginning of the entry:
Homing Overlay Tests
Homing Overlay used a large, infrared homing interceptor,
which unfurled a fifteen foot diameter sets of spokes just
prior to intercept. There was controversy in 1993/94 over
the revelation of a deception program in which a small
amount of explosive placed on the interceptor would be used
to blow up the interceptor following a near miss in order to
deceive the Soviets into believing a hit had been scored.
Neither of the first two intercept attempts came close
enough to the target to employ the deception scheme, and it
was discontinued after the second flight. The target was
also heated (to about 100 degrees F) prior to launch to
enhance its IR signal.
December 1982: First flight aborted
***February 7, 1983: First intercept attempt misses by large
distance. Miss attributed to anomalies in the sensor
cooling system that prevented homing.
***May 28, 1983: Second intercept attempt misses by a large
distance. The interceptor began homing, but missed due to a
failure in the guidance electronics.
***December 1983: Third intercept attempt misses. A
software error in the on-board computer prevented the
conversion of optical homing data into steering commands.
***June 10, 1984: Fourth intercept attempt hits target. The
closing speed was said to be greater than 20,000 feet per
second (6.1 km/sec). The target was reportedly acquired at
a range of "hundreds of miles"
ERIS (Exo-atmospheric Reentry Vehicle Interceptor
System) Lockheed was the prime contractor for this $500
million program, which was part of SDIO's Ground-Based
Interceptor Program. The ERIS program built on technology
developed as part of Homing Overlay.
***January 28, 1991: First intercept test. The ERIS kill
vehicle reportedly hit and destroyed a mock RV target. The
dummy warhead was accompanied by 2.2 meter balloon "decoys,"
tethered to the warhead about 180 meters apart, and the ERIS
was told to home on the center one of the three objects.
About one second before impact, the kill vehicle deployed an
inflatable octagonal kill enhancement device. The intercept
occurred at an altitude of 145 nautical miles (270 km) and
at a closing speed of greater than 30,000 mph (13.4 km/sec).
May 11, 1991: Second intercept test aborted. About one
minute before the ERIS was scheduled to be launched the
launch was called off because of a "telemetry anomaly" with
the target, which had already been launched. This failure
apparently led the planned series of three intercept
attempts to be reduced to only two.
***March 13, 1992: Second intercept attempt. The ERIS
failed to hit the target, reportedly missing by "several
meters." This time the target was accompanied by a single
balloon "decoy." The decoy and target were separated by
about 20 meters and the kill vehicle flew between them.
Discrimination was accomplished using a one-color IR sensor,
using data from the first test (and two-color IR data was
collected for use in the future) with the ERIS being
programmed to intercept the cooler target. The miss was
apparently a result of two factors: a greater than
anticipated separation between the decoy and target and a
late detection (by about 0.2 second) of the target relative
to the decoy, which, together with a pre-programmed one-
second data collection period, left the kill vehicle with
insufficient time to maneuver to an intercept. The
intercept attempt reportedly took place at an altitude of
180 miles (290 km) and at a closing speed of 25,000 mph
FLAGE (flexible lightweight agile guided experiment) -
formerly known as SR-HIT (small radar-homing intercept
technology) -- was the predecessor of the current Patriot
PAC-3 ERINT interceptor. FLAGE was a small (9 inches in
diameter) highly-maneuverable, millimeter-wave radar-guided
interceptor intended for relatively short-range intercepts
well within the atmosphere. The missile spins during flight
and its center of gravity and center of pressure are
reportedly very close together, making it inherently
unstable. 216 small solid rocket motors mounted in the
missile body forward of its center of gravity were used to
achieve very high maneuverablity (reportedly about 100 Gs).
January 20, 1984. First flight test. An unguided ballistic
trajectory flight to test missile performance and stability.
Reportedly a success. First of a planned series of nine
March 15, 1984. Second flight test. Non-homing test in
which the missile was to make a series of six pre-programmed
maneuvers. Missile became unstable during second maneuver,
and its radome and fins were torn off. Prior to the third
test, ballast was added to improve the missile's aerodynamic
November 29, 1984. Third flight test. Non-homing test.
The missile reportedly successfully executed a series of pre-
Date?? Fourth flight test. Test was to be against a
stationary target suspended from a balloon.
April 20, 1986. Fifth flight test. Target was a 44 inch
diameter aluminum sphere held in place at 12,000 feet (3.7
km) altitude by a balloon. Test was a success, with missile
passing through the target.
***June 27, 1986. Sixth flight test. First intercept
attempt against a simulated missile target, and the
interceptor hit the target. The intercept took place 7
seconds after the interceptor launch at an altitude of about
12,000 feet (3.7 km). There was no up-link to interceptor
after its launch. At intercept, FLAGE speed was 3,200
ft/sec (0.98 km/sec) and the target speed was 3,800 ft/sec
(1.16 km/sec). The target was launched from an airplane and
reportedly had an RCS of about 1 square meter. At the time
of test, it was described as the sixth test in a series of
***May 21, 1987. Seventh flight test, second intercept
attempt. The FLAGE successfully intercepted a Lance
ballistic missile (said to simulate a Soviet SS-21 missile).
The Lance reportedly had a much smaller radar cross section
than the previous targets. The intercept took place seven
seconds after the FLAGE launch, at an altitude of 12,000
feet (3.7 km). At intercept, FLAGE speed was 3,200 ft/sec
(0.98 km/sec) and the target speed was less than 3,000
ft/sec (0.91 km/sec). The FLAGE radar reportedly acquired
the target 2 seconds before the intercept and 60 of the 216
small solid rocket motors were fired during the flight.
Following the seventh flight test, it was reported that a
second flight against a Lance missiles would be attempted in
July 1987, and that a third test might be conducted after
the data from the first two tests against a Lance were
analyzed. However, I have not found anything indicating
that either test occurred.
The ERINT (extended range interceptor) is similar to
the FLAGE. It uses 180 small solid rocket thrusters to make
June 26, 1992. First flight test. Flight test without
seeker, intended to test missile aerodynamics. Missile
reportedly successfully flew a 34.3 second pre-programmed
flight, including 5 G in-plane maneuvers.
Late August, 1992. Second flight test. Reportedly
successful aerodynamic flight, without seeker.
***June 8, 1993. Third flight test, first intercept
attempt. The ERINT reportedly missed a Lance missile target
by a very small distance. The miss was subsequently
attributed to unexpected vibrations due to the solid rocket
***November 30, 1993. Fourth flight test, second intercept
attempt. The ERINT hit a Storm reentry vehicle (3.3 m long,
1 m base diameter) filled with 38 water-filled canisters
intended to simulate chemical weapons submunitions, and
reportedly destroyed all of them. The ERINT was said to
weight 710 lbs at takeoff and 350 at the intercept.
***February 15, 1994. Fifth flight test, third intercept
attempt. ERINT hit a Storm warhead filled with water,
simulating a bulk chemical warhead, destroying it.
June 2, 1994. Sixth flight test. ERINT successfully
intercepted a simulated aircraft target.
June 18, 1991. First hover test of LEAP (Hughes version).
Seven second flight, altitude about 10 feet, while tracking
a target outside of the test hanger.
January 31, 1991. Successful 17 second hover flight of
LEAP FLIGHT TESTS.
Original plans called for a series of 8 LEAP flight
tests, with closing speeds ultimately reaching 10 km/second.
February 18, 1992. LEAP 1 test. Used Rockwell Advanced
Hover Interceptor Technology (AHIT) kill vehicle. Described
as a success. There was a target, but hitting it was not a
test objective (officials claimed that actually hitting
target was only an "extra credit" objective). One objective
of the test was to have the interceptor pass within 400
meters of the target - actual closest approach was 418
***June 19, 1992. LEAP 2 test. White Sands LEAP test
involving Hughes version failed to hit target. The LEAP was
supposed to receive target position and speed data, but did
not and used default values, resulting in miss. The LEAP
was able to track the target.
***LEAP 3 test. Originally scheduled for Sept. 1992, using
Rockwell LEAP. Test was apparently conducted in June 1993,
with the LEAP passing "within 7 m of a target traveling at
750 m/s." There appeared to be little if any reporting on
this test at the time it actually occurred.
LEAP 4 test was to have used Hughes LEAP, but apparently
never took place.
Upper Tier Tests (Terrier/LEAP)
FTV-1: (Functional Technology Validation or Flight Test
Vehicle). 24 September 1992.
A modified Terrier missile was fired from the USS
Richmond S. Turner to test the high-altitude aerodynamics of
the missile. An 18" extension and ballast was added to the
missile to simulate the LEAP. No LEAP or target was
involved. Test apparently considered to be a success.
FTV-2: September 1993.
Involved a SM-2 Block 3 interceptor launched from the
USS Jouett. Missile reportedly successfully ejected a mock-
up of the Rockwell LEAP. Apparently no target was involved.
***FTV-3: March 4, 1995
First intercept attempt for LEAP/Upper Tier, launched
from the USS Turner. LEAP failed to hit target because a
guidance error during the second stage caused the missile to
fly too high, putting it in a position from which it could
not make an intercept. This test used the Hughes version of
LEAP. Two earlier attempts (on February 10 and 12) to
conduct this test were canceled at the last minute.
***FTV-4: March 28, 1995
Test of Rockwell version of LEAP, again launched from
USS Turner. The LEAP failed to hit the target, reportedly
because the battery that supplied power to the LEAP failed.
Original plan for THAAD testing called for a series of 14
flight test, to be completed by March 1997, with the third
flight test being the first intercept attempt.
August, 1994: Simulated THAAD launch (to an altitude of
roughly 200 feet) using a short-burn booster.
First Test: April 21, 1995: First THAAD flight test. Tested
flight of interceptor and KKV sensors (observing moon and
stars), no target was involved. Labeled a success.
Second Test: July 31 or August 1, 1995: Flight test with no
target. After an energy management manuever, the THAAD
velocity was higher than expected, and the missile was
destroyed in order to prevent debris from leaving the test
range boundaries. This happened before the seeker shroud
Third Test: October 13, 1995: First test with a target;
however because of range safety concerns, no actual
intercept was attempted (the kill vehicle was programmed to
miss by 20 meters or more). Primary purpose of test was to
collect seeker data, and the interceptor apparently
performed well. However, the THAAD GBR radar (in its first
use in a flight test), which was not the prime radar for the
test, malfunctioned and failed to track either THAAD or the
***Fourth Test: December 13, 1995: First intercept attempt.
The THAAD kill vehicle failed to hit its Storm target. The
miss was attributed to a software error which caused an
unneeded kill vehicle divert maneuver, causing the kill
vehicle to run out of divert fuel before the intercept could
be made. The THAAD GBR radar, again used only in an
observing role, apparently worked well.
***Fifth Test: March 22, 1996. Second intercept attempt.
The THAAD interceptor missed the Hera target. The THAAD
kill vehicle did not respond to commands following
separation from its booster. The failure was attributed to
a broken cable connecting the kill vehicle with its
supporting electronics module.
***Sixth Test: July 15, 1996. Third intercept attempt. The
THAAD kill vehicle failed again to hit its target, although
it apparently came close to it. The failure was caused by a
seeker problem. It appears that the precise cause of the
seeker failure could not be conclusively determined, with
loose connectors that hold electronics boards to the back of
the seeker the leading suspect. The GBR radar reportedly
Seventh Test. March 6, 1997. Fourth intercept attempt.
THAAD once again missed the target. The failure was
attributed to the THAAD divert and attitude control system,
which had worked in previous tests.