5 April 2017
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin refine MOKV missile defense to kill several warheads with one launch
By John Keller
Military & Aerospace


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – U.S. missile defense experts are spending $112.7 million to refine capabilities and reduce development risks for a future ballistic missile defense multi-warhead killer intended to detect, track, and kill several different incoming enemy missile warheads and decoys with only one counter-missile launch.

Officials of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Huntsville, Ala., are asking systems designers at the Raytheon Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. for technology work related to the Multi-Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV) technology risk reduction effort.

The MOKV is to engage several incoming objects simultaneously with kill vehicles that communicate with one another and destroy several incoming warheads and decoys using advanced sensor, divert and attitude control, and communications technologies.

MDA officials announced a $59.6 million contract Monday to the Raytheon Missile Systems segment in Tucson, Ariz., to enhance the MOKV's secure communications systems, high sensitivity multi-band sensor, survivable processor, kill vehicle divert and attitude control system, bus sensor and sensor pointing, and the engagement management.

Last month MDA announced a $53.1 million contract to the Lockheed Martin Space Systems segment in Sunnyvale, Calif., to enhance the MOKV's gimbaled seeker assembly, integrated avionics assembly, component integration and testing, and an advanced seeker.

Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and the Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in Huntsville, Ala., all won MDA contracts in 2015 to define MOKV proof-of-concept prototypes, demonstrate risk mitigation steps, assess the technical maturity of their concepts, and rank enabling technologies to minimize design risks.

MDA officials ultimately are expected to narrow the field to one contractor for advanced development and manufacturing for the MOKV program.

The MDA’s ground-based interceptor missile today carries one kill warhead that detects, tracks, and attacks an incoming enemy ballistic missile warhead and attempts to destroy it kinetically by force of impact.

The MOKV, instead, is expected to launch on one air-defense missile, and deploy several kill vehicles that could engage several incoming enemy warheads. MOKV warheads will be designed to communicate with one another to coordinate their attacks.

As many as six MOKVs will launch on one booster rocket, deploy at the edge of space, steer toward, and destroy several incoming ballistic missile warheads and decoys using separate kinetic hit-to-kill weapons.

The MOKV would function similarly to the MDA's Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) program, which was cancelled in 2009. The MOKV is likely to launch on rockets like the U.S. Navy Raytheon SM-3 standard shipboard missile.

When put to use, military forces will load several MOKVs on one missile-defense rocket, such as the three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI). After launch, each MOKV will steer toward an incoming ballistic missile warhead or decoy to destroy it.

Each interceptor rocket will have an advanced sensor and divert, attitude-control, and communications technologies, to enable each MOKV to home-in on its target. Each MOKV will have its own sensor and diverting thrusters.

If MDA officials and other senior military leaders decide to proceed with MOKV development, production of these sophisticated missile-defense warheads could begin in 2022.

On Monday's MOKV contract Raytheon will do the work in Tucson, Ariz. On last' month's contract Lockheed Martin will do the work in Sunnyvale and Goleta, Calif., and in Bethesda, Md. The companies should be finished with phase of MOKV development by spring 2020.

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