The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force, successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target during a test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the nation’s ballistic missile defense system on 30 May 2017. While previous interception tests have been against targets mimicking shorter range missiles, this flight was a true test against an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) class target warhead. The ICBM mimicking missile was launched from Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, while the interceptor missile along with its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle was launched from the Vandenberg base in California thousands of kilometres away.
Multiple sensors provided target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system. The Sea-Based X-band radar, positioned in the Pacific Ocean, also acquired and tracked the target. The GMD system received the target tracking data and developed a fire control solution to intercept the target. This was intercepted and destroyed in a direct collision.
This GMD ABM (Anti-ballistic missile) system is designed to counter missile launches from “rogue states” such as North Korea. While it could counter a limited defence against multiple missiles, it would not provide missile defence against a mass attack.