The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded Northrop-Grumman a $4.5 billion
contract for development and testing of a concept Kinetic Energy Interceptor
(KEI) program designed to intercept and destroy Ballistic Missiles in the boost
The boost phase of a Ballistic missile is a period of time lasting 3-to-5
minutes after the launch. During that time the ballistic missile features slower
speed, large radar cross-section and infrared signature, and is
attached to its fuel tanks which makes it highly vulnerable. Countermeasures and
decoys haven't been deployed yet and in the event of a successful intercept the
payload of weapons of mass destruction will fall back on the aggressor country.
Development and testing of the KEI concept will be carried out over the next 8
years. According to current schedule, it could be fielded by MDA within land and
sea-based platforms in the 2010-2012 timeframe.
Northrop-Grumman teaming with Raytheon were awarded this contract after an 8
month competition against a Lockheed-Martin led team.
Despite by default KEI program is a land-based system, it is envisaged the
integration of KEI Interceptors on Sea-Based platforms such as frigates and
The land-based KEI system will consist of a mobile launcher, an HMMWV mounted
Battle Management and Communications System (BMCS), and satellite receivers for
target acquisition. The KEI interceptor will be agile and faster than any
interceptor to date. The equipment has been designed to be highly mobile and can
be loaded onto a C-17 aircraft and transported worldwide.
The KEI Ballistic Missile Defense System will complement other existing
programs, now in development and testing, achieving a real layered Ballistic
Missile Defense System. While KEI and ABL programs will take care of ballistic
missiles in their Boost/Ascent phase (lasting 3-5 minutes), THAAD and
Patriot will provide terminal phase defense (about 30 seconds), and GMD and
AEGIS Ballistic Missile will provide Midcourse ballistic defense (typically 20
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