Ballistic missile detection system successful in major test
WASHINGTON — A Raytheon system built into big blimp-like balloons has demonstrated capabilities that could make it easier to detect and track certain enemy ballistic missiles, the company and the Army's manager of the program said.
System tests in December at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico successfully tracked four targets mimicking tactical ballistic missiles in “high-threat” regions, Raytheon will announce on Tuesday.
The hardware is known as Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or Jlens. It includes a targeting radar and a wide-area surveillance radar with a 360-degree look-around capability that can reach out to 340 miles.
Each radar system flies as high as 10,000 feet with a separate, 74-meter-long aerostat capable of operating aloft for up to 30 days while tethered to mobile moorings.
The bulbous, blimp-like aerostats work in pairs officially estimated to cost about $450 million — though Raytheon has said it can cut that price by one-third.
The Dec. 6-7 tests met all primary and secondary goals, including “launch point estimation, ballistic tracking and discrimination performance,” Raytheon, the world's biggest missile-maker, said in a draft press release.
The missiles were tracked during their so-called boost phase, it said, including two that were “ripple-fired” one after the other.
Jlens' “proven capabilities” provide another tool that could help protect U.S. and partner forces from “the growing ballistic missile threat” and other threats, Dean Barten, who manages the program for the Army, said in the release. Barten's statement was confirmed by an Army spokesman.
The Army is preparing one of its two Jlens systems, formally known as an orbit, for a three-year exercise that will tie it into a high-tech shield designed to protect the Washington area from air attack.
The second Jlens system could be sent overseas sooner.
The system is designed to provide more time to detect and react to cruise missiles, manned and unmanned aircraft and other threats, compared with ground-based radar.
It has been demonstrated to be capable of picking out moving vehicles that could be used for attacks, including boats, cars and trucks, according to the Army and Raytheon.
“We think Jlens is ready for action wherever it may be needed,” said Mark Rose, Raytheon's Jlens program director.
The program has been scaled back sharply by the government amid Pentagon belt-tightening to help pare trillion-dollar-a-year deficits.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- White woman sues sperm bank for giving her donation from black man
- Head of Secret Service resigns
- Hagel orders steps to fix military health care
- ER knew ill man visiting from Africa, sent him home
- Records show Kissinger pursued strategy to attack Cuba
- MIT: Global Energy Use, CO2 May Double By 2100
- Obama administration blasts Israeli housing project
- DeLay conviction killed by top court
- Secret Service chief resigns after security lapses
- Mexico expected to free former Marine soon
- Girl missing for 12 years rescued in Mexico; mother arrested