SUNNYVALE, Calif. — The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) plans to use its new Extended Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (EMRBM) during a flight trial in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a $359 million contract a year ago to develop the target, which is described as having a longer range than a typical medium-range threat system. “EMRBM can fly short but it is really optimized to be at the higher end,” says Tory Bruno, vice president of strategic systems and missile defense for Lockheed Martin Space Systems here.
The EMRBM is built on the same production line in Courtland, Ala., as Lockheed’s LV-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile target. Bruno says the missiles use common components including navigation systems and avionics. The major difference between the two is the rocket motor.
The work was sole-sourced to Lockheed as an adjunct to the company’s existing target work for MDA, agency officials say.
Included in the work scope is delivery of five missiles that will be used in flight trials of the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad) and Aegis defensive systems. The EMRBM target is designed to be air-launched, and it is capable of deploying countermeasures. Countermeasures are slated for use as early as fiscal 2013.
As EMRBM moves forward, MDA’s other plans to buy new short- and medium-range targets seem to be stalled. Plans announced in 2009 supporting a sweeping strategy to acquire targets have largely crumbled, or at least slipped significantly.
Agency officials say that a new short-range target is no longer needed “immediately” and the strategy for buying a new medium-range target has been scrapped because a competition “failed to produce savings, leaving the planned MRBM program unaffordable.”
Some flight tests have slipped to accommodate the lack of a new target. MDA will continue acquiring existing targets from Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences, L-3 Coleman and the Naval Surface Warfare Center to fill short-range requirements.
Meanwhile, contractors are awaiting MDA’s announcement of who will be providing the new intermediate-range ballistic missile target; an announcement is expected as soon as this week. Lockheed is spending some internal research and development (IRAD) funding to make its LV-2 family of missiles more modular.
“We actually chose to no-bid [the IRBM target] as a prime because we already have our LV-2 and ... we thought it made a lot more sense to invest in the LV-2, and we put some IRAD into it to make it even more modular,” Bruno says. “By putting a little investment in it ... you don’t have to fly everything every time, and it makes a cheaper target.”
A request for proposals for an intercontinental ballistic missile target is slated for release shortly. Lockheed Martin is offering a derivative of its LV-2 family for that competition, Bruno says.
The company has reduced the per-target price by 10-15% by using a modular approach, he says. Also, the LV-2 design is “ship and shoot,” meaning that once delivered from Courtland, it is fully tested and assembled. Existing missiles require funding teams at the launch site for preparation and testing.