Ground-Based Midcourse Defense

The Ground -Based Interceptor Missile ( German as: " ground-based interceptor [ unit ]") is an anti - ballistic missile for defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is an essential component of the national missile defense program of the United States. Prime contractor is Boeing, which the company Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Orbital Sciences Corporation are major contributors to the system. The missile is part of the "Ground -Based Midcourse Defense " system ( GMD).


The development of the GBI missile went two projects related to technology testing and demonstration ahead: " Exoatmospheric Re-entry vehicle Interceptor System" ( ERIS ), produced by Lockheed Martin and "High Endoatmospheric Defence Interceptor " ( HEDI ), manufactured by McDonnell Douglas. The first HEDI flight test in 1990, with subsequent test showed that the infrared seeker head used fewer problems with friction heat in the low layers of the atmosphere was as expected. The first ERIS test in 1991 scored a direct hit in 270 km altitude and 925 km away. From these two projects was established in 1992, the GBI program. Test flights will take place since 1997 ( for details see test results ). The GBI missile would have to be stationed on the controversial American missile defense base in Poland, followed by now but omitted. Currently (January 2009 ) a total of 30 missiles in Alaska and California operational.


The GBI missile consists of two main components: the " Booster Vehicle" and the " Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle" ( EKV ). The former is a three-stage solid-fuel rocket, the latter is the kinetic warhead to destroy enemy re-entry.

Booster Vehicle

At the beginning of the program, the so-called " Payload Launch Vehicle " ( PLV ) of Lockheed Martin was used, which was developed on the basis of the Minuteman ICBM. The COTS booster concept of the principal contractor Boeing was discarded after two false starts and transferred in 2002 to Lockheed Martin. The Group improved the design, which is called " BV -Plus" and one of the two operational booster is. The other booster is manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation and is " orbital Booster Vehicle" ( OBV ) called. This consists of the upper three levels of the Taurus XL rocket, which uses the company in the commercial sector. All missiles in underground missile silos, mainly on the Vandenberg Air Force Base, housed.

Each rocket contains about 12,595 kg solid fuel and reaches a speed of 5.5 to 5.9 kilometers per second (km / s). The missiles with a scheduled deployment in Poland should have only two stages, so that missiles from the Middle East could be tackled quickly.

Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle

The EKV is the kinetic warhead of the Ground -Based Interceptor. He shall destroy enemy targets by a direct impact, which is why no explosives is required. In order to locate the target, it has a cooled FLIR seeker head, which can be seen on the picture on the right as the gold cylinder that locates the infrared emissions of the target object. For course corrections four thrusters are used ( in each figure a right and left of the white hydrazine tank with the " Raytheon / Aerojet " inscription ).

The warhead is 1.4 m long, measuring 60 cm in diameter and weighs about 64 kg. In the final stage, he reached a speed of about 10 km / s ( ~ 36,000 km / h ). Thus, it shows kinetic energy of approximately 800 MJ, which corresponds to the explosive force of 200 kg of TNT.

A GBI can also carry a Multiple Kill Vehicle system instead of the unitary warhead.

Test results