Dear Members and Friends,
In the thick of cotton fields outside of Courtland, Alabama, is a fenced in 660 acre facility where target Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM) are being put together, made, checked, and shipped out to be launched and shot down in a testing environment against a variety of missile defense systems that the U.S. has developed and deployed today. These 52 to 72 inch diameter rockets are filled with solid fuel in two stages that weigh up to 65,000 pounds and burn up in under two minutes propelling a reentry vehicle 300 km above the earth to then let it fall ballistically with realistic high speeds that reflects current foreign country ICBM and MRBM missile threats down to the exact characteristics and counter measures of the warhead.
Kits are developed specifically for each individual threat scenario and adaptations on the third stage and nth stage can provide an extensively different shape of the threat cloud to realistically test the U.S. defensive interceptor rocket kill vehicle systems and its missile defense sensors that support its tracking and targeting. The reentry vehicle that carries the warhead also has a common highly sophisticated sensor and GPS package that provides the exact location of the intercept on the warhead within milliseconds before its explodes by the impact.
Telemetry data from all these threat target missile launches are recorded and put into computer modeling and simulation to virtually duplicate testing for both the developers and the U.S. missile defense war fighters who are deployed today. This helps to tremendously defray the cost of the testing in its efficiency, value, and use.
These targets are the most realistic capable and reliable threat missiles the United States produces and couples with limited Foreign Military Assets acquired by the government to give our nation critical capability to test, quantify and develop our Missile Defense Systems.
The target test missiles, produced here in Courtland, Alabama, are used on different test platforms, from the air launched from U.S. Air Force C-17s, from the sea based platform USS Tripoli, and from the test firing range in the islands of Kwajalein in the Pacific Ocean to match the integrated testing schedule of the Missile Defense Agency.
One of the target missiles being put together here in Courtland, Alabama will be the ICBM threat missile that will test against our highly anticipated Ground Based Interceptor in its next intercept test scheduled for next year.
All of the target missiles that are produced are a critical capability for our nation as it establishes realistic confidence in our nation’s missile defense systems that protect our nation, our troops forward, and our allies.
The more testing we have the more confidence we have in our missile defense systems and the more confidence we have the safer we are.