USASMDC flies payload on MMIII flight test

A specialized set of National Missile Defense (NMD) target payloads designated as Radar Credible Target-1 (RCT-1) was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, today. The RCT-1 mission was conducted as an Associated Operation on the Minuteman III Operational Test (OT) Mission GT-170GM. The RCT-1 target mission used the MM III as a delivery system. RCT-1 targets occupied one of the three RV seats on the MM III bus or post boost vehicle. The RCT-1 target mission was managed by the Strategic Targets Product Office within the Ballistic Missile Targets Joint Project Office of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Acquisition Center (SMDC-AQ-T-S) in Huntsville, Alabama.

The RCT-1 target mission was designed and conducted as a low cost NMD mission to collect critical data for the development and testing of surveillance, acquisition, tracking and discrimination algorithms for the Ground Based Radar Prototype (GBR-P) located on Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands. RCT-1 was designed to satisfy NMD test needs associated with the GBR program in general, and the GBR-P in particular.

CT-1 also served as a precursor experiment to the NMD Integrated Flight Test-3 (IFT-3) scheduled for 28 Sep 99. The NMD portion of this flight test was known as Risk Reduction Flight-6 (RRF-6). The GBR-P is an NMD testbed radar with a large (105 square meter aperture), X-band, phased array radar with a 2000 km single pulse detection range and simultaneous electrical/mechanical scan and tracking capability.

The GT-170GM OT flew a nominal MM III OT trajectory that originated in California at Vandenberg Air Force Base and terminated in the Marshall Islands at the Kwajalein Missile Range. In order to avoid interfering with normal conduct of the MM III OT, the RCT-1 target set was deployed from the MM III bus as a single unit, or target stack. Individual targets were then deployed from the RCT-1 target stack after release from the MM III bus. The RV used on RCT-1 survived reentry while no other RCT-1 targets survived the impact.

The RCT-1 target payload consisted of four deployable target objects. Namely, one Reentry Vehicle (RV), two Rigid Lightweight Replicas (RLRs), and one chaff package. Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) fabricated the RV, RLRs and chaff ejector, while Tracor Aerospace manufactured the RCT-1 chaff target. The RV and replicas were each instrumented to collect motion and attitude truth data to be used in post-mission data analysis of RCT-1 target flight performance and the performance of the GBR-P. Global Positioning System (GPS) data were also collected by the NMD Ground Based Elements (GBE) Office as an associated experiment with the RCT-1 RV.

The USASMDC RCT-1 target mission team consisted of representatives of the Strategic Targets Product Office, NMD Ground Based Elements (GBE) Office, Sandia National Laboratories, and Military Technology, Inc. (Miltec).