The U.S. Air Force’s Rocket Systems Launch Program and its mission partners successfully completed the fourth launch of a Patriot Test Vehicle today from the U.S. Army’s Fort Wingate near Gallup, N.M.
The rocket serves as an intercept target for the U.S. Army Lower Tier Project Office Patriot missile defense system.
“Continued success of the Juno target series provides a reliable and affordable test target for our U.S. Army mission partners,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for space at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. “Congratulations to the Launch Enterprise team and its mission partners.”
The Patriot Target Vehicle, known as Juno, was designed by Orbital ATK to provide a realistic threat target, which meets the stringent performance requirements of the U.S. Army’s Patriot missile defense system. The target’s first stage lifts the rocket from its launch pad to above the earth’s atmosphere. After a short coast period, the rocket’s second stage ignites, extending the range of the target missile to complete its flight path into the defended footprint of a Patriot test battery. In addition to Orbital ATK’s work as the prime contractor for the target, TASC Inc. provided mission assurance services to independently verify and validate the Juno Target’s performance.
The Juno PTV contributes toward meeting the Rocket Systems Launch Program responsibilities to re-utilize excess motors from intercontinental ballistic missiles for U.S. government research, development, test and evaluation efforts, incorporating two solid rocket motors from the LGM-30F Minuteman II weapon system, which was retired in 1994.
The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force’s center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.