News

No. 151-98
MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS September 18, 1998

The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Army were advised by Lockheed Martin Wednesday of a component problem involving the missile seeker that could affect the timing of the next Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) flight test (FT-09). The concern was presented at a Lockheed Martin-sponsored meeting to review progress toward the next THAAD flight. The problem was discovered during ground-testing.

The problem has been traced to the Operational Amplifier (OpAmp), a small device in the flight seeker. The OpAmp is not unique to the THAAD missile and is used in multiple other systems.

This specific OpAmp was purchased, along with others for THAAD, at the beginning of the program and installed on all seekers flown to date. A preliminary failure investigation indicates the OpAmp failed due to internal contamination which caused a short circuit, resulting in seeker failure. As a precautionary measure the suspect parts may need to be replaced, which could result in a delay in THAAD FT-09, originally scheduled to take place by the end of this calendar year.

Lockheed Martin also discovered minor concerns about the Integrated Avionics Package (IAP), or flight computer, which could impact its performance. If this requires rework, it too could contribute to a delay.

Although neither the OpAmp nor the IAP has failed during previous flight tests, plans for the next flight test are proceeding cautiously. A decision as to when FT-09 will be ready to fly is under review and is expected to be made in the next two weeks, after all information has been fully evaluated.

The seeker is being developed by Lockheed Martin Infrared Imaging Systems (LMIRIS) of Lexington, Mass. The Integrated Avionics Package is developed by Honeywell of Clearwater, Fla.