Observatory Aircraft to Take Part in Ballistic Missile Tests

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The US Missile Defense Agency is about to upgrade its High Altitude Observatory (HALO) systems for carrying out the Ballistic Missile Defense System tests requirement.

The HALO is an instrumented Gulfstream II-B optical data collection aircraft providing airborne collection of multispectral, imaging, optical signature data on targets of interest including re-entry vehicles, missile plume phenomenology, and missile/target intercepts, and intercept debris characterization and kill assessment, defenseworld.net reports.

The aircraft’s capability to fly at very high altitude, above obscuring clouds and atmosphere, provides the HALO-I sensors a clear view of mission targets. The large windows on the Gulfstream aircraft (replaced with optical windows) and enclosed, environmentally controlled optical benches make this aircraft a choice for unique and experimental EO/IR systems, according to L3 website.

The Missile Defense Agency has awarded the $73 million worth contract to L-3 Communications, the basic contract ceiling being increased from $564,153,809 to a maximum of $637,376,809. This modification will allow the contractor to procure “three used aircraft required to modernize the HALO systems used by the Missile Defense Agency to collect electro-optic and infrared imagery during tests of the Ballistic Missile Defense System,” the DoD release states.

Meanwhile, as the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency move into the second half of 2018, the SM-3 Block IIA missile is heading for a crucial test that the Pentagon hopes will dispel nagging doubts after two successive failures. The goal is testing the interceptor against an intercontinental ballistic missile by the end of 2020, according to defensenews.com.