7th Space Warning Squadron successfully guides interceptor
By 1st Lt. Michael Trett and 1st Lt. Matt Innes, 7th Space Warning Squadron
/ Published October 09, 2007
BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif --
The 7th Space Warning Squadron's Upgraded Early Warning Radar recently guided an interceptor to track and destroy a test missile 230 kilometers above the Earth's surface.
The missile was launched from the Kodiak launch complex in Alaska and flew over the Pacific while the UEWR tracked its every move by sending information to the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control and Communications element in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Sept. 28.
"The missile warning and defense capability demonstrated by the 7th SWS and mission partners was a huge success displaying our ability to defend America," said Lt. Col. Joey Hinson, 21st Operations Group deputy commander.
Approximately seventeen minutes after the missile was launched, military operators launched an interceptor toward the missile from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., which received live updates on the missile flight path from UEWR and other sensors. As the two objects flew closer, the interceptor released the final weapon, an exoatmospheric kill vehicle, which locked in on the target until it was destroyed.
"Now instead of just warning about incoming missiles, 7th SWS has the capability to cue interceptors to take out missiles before they reach the United States," said Lt. Col. Keith Skinner, 7th SWS commander.
7th SWS has a primary mission of missile warning, a corollary mission of missile defense, and secondary mission of space surveillance in support of space superiority. 7th SWS is a geographically separated unit of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colo.
The "Eyes to the West" team consists of U.S. Air Force, Canadian Air Force, government civilians, and BAE Systems contractors responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the radar.
UEWR was the primary sensor in a large complex mission involving about 1,000 government and contractor personnel and more than 50 assets worldwide.
On Sept. 24, 2007, the 7th Space Warning Squadron accepted a missile defense mission supporting the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. The program's objective is the defense of the United States against a threat of a limited strategic ballistic missile attack. The GMD system, developed by the Missile Defense Agency, is the first missile defense program deployed operationally to defend North America. The mission upgrade, called UEWR, started in 2003. 7th SWS, working with Boeing and Raytheon contractors, and the 850th Electronic Systems Group, completed software development, testing and troubleshooting to bring UEWR online. 7th SWS recently accomplished UEWR initial operations testing and evaluation and an initial operational assessment.
The BMDS provides early detection and tracking during the boost phase, mid-course target discrimination, precision intercept, and destruction of inbound missiles through hit-to-kill technology. GMD is made up of five components, including ground based interceptors (currently located at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. and Ft. Greely, Alaska), Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control and Communications element, X-Band radars, UEWR, and Defense Support Program satellites and Space-Based Infrared System.
UEWR is able to search for different types of missiles, distinguish hostile objects such as warheads from other objects, and provide this information to the GFC/C element. This information is then combined with other inputs to generate a target solution used to fire an interceptor missile towards the inbound target.