Missile Defense Targets
For more than three decades, Orbital (and its predecessor companies) has designed and built sophisticated suborbital rockets for U.S. Government missile defense development and test programs. These rockets simulate incoming missiles, offering an affordable and reliable means to test advanced interceptors and related supporting systems.
The company provides target vehicles in support of virtually all of the country’s major missile defense programs. This includes the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), and Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems. Orbital also supplies short-range ballistic and low-altitude targets including the company’s “Coyote” supersonic sea-skimming target for the testing of U.S. Navy ship self defense systems, and targets employed in the testing of the U.S. Army’s PAC-3 interceptor system.
Our target vehicles fall into three main categories:
Our Minotaur II and Minotaur III strategic targets are used in the testing and validation of technologies for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). These targets provide flight-proven, highly flexible, reliable, and cost-effective target solutions for strategic and medium-range missile defense testing, as well as other suborbital missions. They are based on a combination of residual Minuteman II solid rocket motors with components and processes shared across the Minotaur family of launch vehicles.
Orbital currently provides a multi-mode Medium Range Target (MRT) which can be air-, ground- or sea-launched to offer a broad range of ballistic trajectories. Designed to accommodate flexible hardware and software designs, MRT allows customers to select from a wide variety of mission parameters in a single target design with minimal lead time before mission execution. The air-launched MRT is launched from a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft, using a parachute extraction and descent system.
Historically, Orbital has been a leading provider of short-range targets used in the testing of terminal-phase and theater missile defense programs. Current short-range target programs include our Coyote supersonic sea-skimming rocket that flies just above the ocean's surface to simulate current threat technology to U.S. naval forces, and our Short Range Air-Launch Target (SRALT). Similar to the MRT air-launched target, SRALT is launched from a C-17 transport to allow for a wide variety of trajectories and offer greater mission flexibility.
Orbital also provides a variety of signatures and countermeasures and other testbed vehicles for a wide-variety of missile defense-related research programs.
Since the early 1980's, our Chandler, Arizona group has produced and launched over 270 suborbital boosters and target vehicles
Orbital is a major primary supplier of Target Vehicles for the testing and validation of the nation's missile defense systems
More than 35 suborbital rocket configurations are available
||Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles
||Intercontinental ballistic missiles
||Sea skimming cruise missiles
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