Risk reduction test of ground-launched ballistic missile successful

  • Published
  • By SMC Public Affairs
  • Space and Missile Systems Center

The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office, successfully conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile Dec. 12. The mission served as a risk reduction demonstration for the development of future intermediate range capabilities following the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

The missile was launched from the 30th Space Wing’s Test Pad-01 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in northern Santa Barbara County, California.

“Our collaboration with Northrop Grumman demonstrates SMC’s commitment to exploring innovative, complimentary capability for the Air Force, DOD, and ultimately the Warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of SMC’s Small Launch and Targets Division and mission director for the conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile flight test. 

The joint government-industry team began work after the U.S suspended its treaty obligations in February, and executed this launch mission within nine months of contract award as opposed to the traditional 24-month mission schedule. The SMC Launch Enterprise’s Small Launch and Targets Division, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is responsible for the Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP).

Established in 1972, RSLP is chartered with the disposal or refurbishment of decommissioned ICBM rocket motors. Today, RSLP manages a plethora of orbital and suborbital launch contracts, enabling assured access to space for national security.

Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) was the primary launch services contractor behind the execution of the mission. The government and industry collaborated to provide a responsive launch capability while ensuring 100 percent mission success. SMC awarded the contract to NGIS in record time of 12 days, and was responsible for providing program management and mission assurance certification and testing, leading to full launch and mission readiness. 

“Mission success is the Launch Enterprise’s number one priority and I am proud of the Small Launch and Targets Team for their dedication to this mission,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of SMC’s Launch Enterprise.

The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Air Force's center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. SMC’s portfolio includes space launch, global positioning, military space vehicle communications, defense meteorological space vehicles, range systems, space vehicle control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.


Media representatives who would like to learn more about the flight test should reach out to Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs at (703) 697-5131 or osd.pentagon.pa.list.dpo-atl@mail.mil  

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