The Space and Missile Defense Command Team plays a behind-the-scenes role in support of the Air Force’s Glory Trip-237, 24 February.
The unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, during an operational test of Air Force Global Strike Command and was hit in a pre-defined target zone some 4,200 miles away near the Ronald Reagan SMDC Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The RTS is a range and testing facility located 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii.
The objectives of the ICBM test launch program are to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of weapons systems and to ensure the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable, and effective to deter 21st century threats and reassure America’s allies.
“I am very excited about the opportunity for the Reagan Test Site to join forces with our talented personnel to take part in the Air Force Global Assault Command’s Glory Journey mission,” Colonel Eugene Poindexter, director of the RTS, said. “The RTS team is comprised of the highest ranking engineering professionals in the Department of Defense who possess a broad range of skills that are unique to no other organization in the world. The involvement of the RTS team provides the technical expertise and knowledge our personnel provide for this very important mission and I am proud to be part of such a great professional team.
“I am very pleased with the involvement of the RTS team with this mission which has contributed greatly to the implementation of our country’s defense strategy. The RTS team continues to be ready to support our nation’s fighters to provide cutting-edge technology and expertise every day. “
Supporting the launch from Huntsville are USASMDC members assigned to the RTS Operations Center-Huntsville, which controls sensors on the RTS. The ROC-H is a command and control facility for missile defense testing and for space operations on the RTS even though it is more than 6,500 miles from Kwajalein.
RTS sensors, including high-fidelity metrics and signature radars, as well as optical and telemetry sensors, play a role in research, development, testing and evaluation to support America’s defense and space programs. RTS provides range instrumentation, ground coverage security, meteorological support and data analysis and uses full spectrum support, including multiple radar frequencies, telemetry, and multiple optical systems and high-speed cameras to capture any scalable data opportunity and provide critical data and information for system performance evaluation.
RTS is one of the main range bases and testing facilities supporting the Glory Trip mission. They collect radar, optical and telemetry data in the terminal phase of aviation on behalf of Air Force customers and track vehicles using radar, telemetry and optical instrumentation. For the GT-237, the RTS will provide assessment data from the moment the vehicle hits the Kwajalein Missile Impact Score System.
The test results verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system and provide valuable data. The ICBM test launch program demonstrates Minuteman III’s operational capability and ensures the United States’ ability to maintain a strong and credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of national security and the security of US allies and partners.
Bryan Wheelock, the RTS Mission Operations range control officer, said the most important task they undertake for the Air Force is to collect data in the terminal phase of the flight to help evaluate the performance of their systems.
“The RTS has a strong instrumentation suite from radar, optical, and telemetry sensors,” said Wheelock. “Skilled and professional RTS teams of civilian government employees, military and contractors have supported this mission successfully for more than 50 years.
“The scheduling for the Journey of Glory begins as early as three years with planning for the mission starting in about a year,” added Wheelock. We routinely plan multiple missions simultaneously. Mission nights are the most exciting part of the Glory Journey mission. Working in the control room, watching everything come together after all the long preparations. Being part of a team that carries out missions, while sitting in the front row for all the action – there’s nowhere I want to be. “
A few weeks out and up to the day of the mission, everyone who supported the Journey of Glory mission participated in many fly-down drills, where there was not only a drop in nominal terms but also a surprise outside of the nominations. This helps ensure operators, and the entire mission team, plan for success and are prepared for potential anomalies on mission day.
Donna Annette Simpson, mission planner and assistant range control officer at ROC-H for the mission, said they are starting to plan and work on a one-year program with estimated funding to support GT’s mission for the coming year.
“Work actually started six months after the mission date, which is when we had our first technical exchange meeting where detailed information was presented by the program about mission specifications,” Simpson said. “About 90 days from the mission, RTS supports a flight test planning meeting where each mission participant presents their specific mission support plan for the program. Mission is supported and data submissions can be sent up to 45 days after the mission.
“I think the most interesting part is watching the vehicle re-enter the atmosphere near Kwaj and seeing (the re-entry vehicle) shine smoothly in the sky and disappear into the crash site,” Simpson added. “I could see three (re-entering the vehicle) entering the area of impact when I was working at Kwaj. It was an amazing sight, and I am grateful to have experienced it. “
to request modification Contact us at Here or [email protected]