Hera target successful again

The Hera target system, developed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC), is now the proud owner of nine missions of an extremely successful targets program. A Hera flew at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), N.M., on 12 May, as the target for the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile intercept attempt, which, by the way, was unsuccessful.

Hera is a tactical ballistic missile target typically used for test and evaluation of Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) interceptor systems. The Hera target flown for this test was modified to present a signature that is more like a medium-range threat. This modification was necessary because target flights at WSMR are severely limited by the size of the range.

The primary objective of this target mission was to provide a short-medium range non-separating Hera unitary target with specific characteristics of a tactical/theater ballistic missile threat. The target lifted off at 0522 MST and flew a conventional ballistic trajectory with a range of 127 kilometers and an apogee of 314 kilometers.

Hera consists of modified second and third stages from the Minuteman II missile, a modified Pershing II guidance and control section, various interstage hardware, and an instrumented ballistic re-entry vehicle. Coleman Aerospace Company of Orlando, Fla. is the Hera prime contractor, supported by principal subcontractors Space Vector Corporation of Fountain Valley, Calif., and Aerotherm Corporation of Mountain View, Calif. Rocket motor assembly is supported by the Space and Missile Systems Center of the U.S. Air Force.

The Hera program is managed for BMDO by SMDC’s Theater Targets Product Manager Lt. Col. James D. Matthewson, Jr., in the Ballistic Missile Targets Joint Project Office, headed by Col. George M. Birdsong.

May 12, 1998