Proven, Ready and Able

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is designed to detect, intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles during their midcourse phase of flight. It provides early detection and tracking during the boost phase, as well as midcourse target discrimination, precision intercept and destruction of the target through the force of collision. The system uses a three-stage ground-based interceptor equipped with an exoatmospheric kill vehicle, and multiple sensors, communications systems and fire control capabilities.

Ground-based Midcourse Defense Milestones

'Impossible' Problem Solved

August 19, 2014 in Defense

Boeing intercepts and destroys a target in flight – essentially hitting a bullet with a bullet – using the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.

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Days of Thunder

October 11, 2013 in Space, Defense

In Norse mythology, Thor was the god of thunder, wielding a mighty hammer. It was a fitting name for the first operational ballistic missile deployed by the U.S. Air Force.

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CHAMP - Lights Out

October 22, 2012 in Defense, Technology

The Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project renders electronic targets useless and is a non-kinetic alternative to traditional explosive weapons.

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Ground-based Midcourse Defense Customer

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Boeing has helped the United States Missile Defense Agency guard against all missile threats through its Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which became operational in 2004. Boeing has been the lead for the capability since 1998.

Ground-based Midcourse Defense Quick Facts

  • Interceptors are emplaced at two sites in the United States, one in Vandenberg, Calif., and the other in Fort Greely, Alaska.
  • Altogether, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system requires 20,000 miles (32,187 kilometers) of fiber optic cable.
  • Boeing has been prime contractor since 1998.
  • Boeing has partnered with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency in the design, development, integration, test and sustainment of all GMD components.
  • Key subcontractors include Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Orbital Sciences.