USIS Washington 

16 January 1998


(Data analysis will determine utility for NDM program) (620)

Washington -- The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization conducted its
second successful flight test January 15 of an infra-red sensor that
may be a candidate for use as part of the National Missile Defense
(NMD) program.

The NMD program is designed to defend against long-range ballistic
missiles that could be launched in the future against the United
States. The first opportunity to decide to deploy the NMD system will
be in the year 2000, based upon intelligence estimates at that time of
the potential threat to the United States.

In announcing the most recent test, the Defense Department said that
it did not involve an attempt to intercept a space vehicle, but rather
to collect data on sensor performance.

Following is the text of the Defense Department announcement:

(begin text)

The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization's National Missile Defense
Joint Program Office conducted the second successful flight test last
night of a candidate infrared sensor designed for possible use with
the National Missile Defense (NMD) program. No intercept attempt took
place during this mission. The purpose of the test was to analyze the
ability of an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) sensor to identify and
track objects in space. Data gathered during this mission will be
analyzed to determine how the EKV sensor performed and the results
released in the next few weeks.

The test was supported by elements of the U.S. Army's National Missile
Defense Program Office and Space and Missile Defense Command,
Huntsville, Alabama; the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Command,
Los Angeles AFB, California; the 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg AFB,
California; and the Joint National Test Facility, Falcon AFB,

A Lockheed Martin Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) topped with the EKV
sensor was launched at 10:46 p.m. EST (3:46 p.m., Jan. 16 local time)
from the Army's Kwajalein Missile Range in the Republic of the
Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean. The EKV sensor payload
included an optical seeker, a data processing system and telemetry.
The seeker and data processing system are the eyes and brain of the
EKV, enabling it to intercept an attacking intercontinental ballistic
missile. Approximately 20 minutes before the PLV was launched, a
Multi-Service Launch System, a specially configured Minuteman II
missile, was launched from Vandenberg AFB, California, carrying a
simulated warhead and decoys.

The EKV sensor was built by Raytheon Systems Co. and involves the use
of a highly-sensitive infrared mercury cadmium telluride-based focal
plane array. The sensor views the target and decoys with a
high-performance telescope and identifies the simulated warhead from
among the decoys.

On June 23, 1997, an EKV sensor built by Boeing North American
successfully tracked and identified a simulated threat target and
decoys during a similar mission. Later this year the Boeing and
Raytheon EKVs will each attempt to intercept a target in space. This
data will be used in the selection process to determine a single
interceptor design.

The NMD program is a vital part of the Defense Department's plan to
design a system to defend against long-range ballistic missiles which
could be launched at the United States in the future. Current plans
include developing and testing the technology necessary to deploy an
NMD system. The first opportunity to decide to deploy the NMD system
will be in 2000, based upon intelligence estimates of the potential
threat to the United States.

For more information, please contact Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, BMDO
External Affairs, at (703) 695-8743, ext. 6129.

(end text)