US Accelerating Development of New Anti-ICBM Kill Vehicle

By Arthur Dominic J. Villasanta , | May 24, 2017

Redesigned Kill Vehicle.

Redesigned Kill Vehicle.

The Pentagon is boosting funding to accelerate development of its new Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), an interceptor designed to be far better at destroying incoming nuclear warheads by colliding with them.

RKV will replace the troubled Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) after a string of intercept failures in 2016 of the Boeing-built Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the primary U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield.

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An EKV is launched by the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) missile, the launch vehicle of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GBAD) System. The EKV is boosted to an intercept trajectory by the GBI missile, where it separates from the missile and autonomously collides with an incoming warhead.

The Department of Defense attributed at least two of those failures to the Raytheon-built EKV.

RKV is one of four such interceptor systems and is expected to offer improved maneuverability and targeting performance over the EKV. It offers improved maneuverability and targeting performance compared to the EKV, which has a poor test record.

Both the RKV and EKV are ground-based interceptors for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency designed to defend the U.S. mainland against intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attacks.

Boeing was recently awarded a $1 billion modification to a previously awarded contract for development of the RKV. The contract includes payload design, ground testing and integration of the RKV with the ground-based interceptor and ground-based midcourse defense systems.

The RKV contract includes payload design, ground testing and integration with the ground-based interceptor and ground-based midcourse defense systems. The program is expected to be completed by June 30, 2022.

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral James Syring, the MDA Commander, said his plan is to field the RKV around 2020 and to hold the first flight test, a non-intercept test, in 2018. MDA will conduct an intercept test for the RKV in 2019.

Adm. Syring said he wants a kill vehicle that is more reliable, more producible, more effective, easier to maintain, and cheaper to build than the EKV.

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