Critical flight-test success buoys Raytheon missile killer
June 6, 2014
by David Wichner
When a critical test of the nation’s ground-based missile defense system went off without a hitch late last month, executives at Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems heaved a collective sigh of relief.
A hit-to-kill interceptor warhead made by the local Raytheon unit hit its mark in a test over the Pacific Ocean June 22 — its first success after two failed attempts in 2010.
Another failure would have dealt a serious blow to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program — the nation’s still-evolving defense against long-range ballistic missiles — and to Raytheon, Southern Arizona’s biggest private employer.
Instead, Raytheon is now awaiting word on restarting production of its Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, which is designed to intercept enemy missiles at high speed and destroy them by sheer impact.
“The importance of this test’s success cannot be overstated,” Norm Montano, Raytheon’s EKV program director, said via email. For those watching the test launch, “the excitement was indescribable. There were a lot of happy people when we saw the flash of the intercept.”
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