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Hera target used in successful interceptthaad.gif (165465 bytes)

The Hera target system, developed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), flew at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), N.M., on June 10, as the target for the successful intercept test of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile.

Hera is a tactical ballistic missile target typically used for test and evaluation of BMDO interceptor systems. The Hera target flown for this test was modified to present a signature that is more like a medium-range threat. This modification was necessary because target flights at WSMR are severely limited by the size of the range.

The primary objective of this target mission was to provide a short-medium range non-separating Hera unitary target with specific characteristics of a tactical/theater ballistic missile threat. This mission demonstrated a high-endoatmospheric intercept by the THAAD missile system. It also provided true flight and damage assessment data to support post-mission analysis. The target flew a conventional ballistic trajectory with a range of 127 kilometers and an apogee of 314 kilometers. Preliminary data indicates all objectives were achieved.

Hera consists of modified second and third stages from the Minuteman II missile, a modified Pershing II guidance and control section, various interstage hardware, and an instrumented ballistic re-entry vehicle. Coleman Aerospace Company of Orlando, Fla., is the Hera prime contractor, supported by principal subcontractors Space Vector Corporation of Fountain Valley, Calif., and Aerotherm Corporation of Mountain View, Calif. Rocket motor assembly is supported by the Space and Missile Systems Center of the U.S. Air Force.

"We have worked the THAAD program for many years," Lt. Gen. John Costello, SMDC’s commanding general, said, "and I have been personally involved with it in this and in my previous job. I am extremely happy and gratified for all the members of the THAAD team who have withstood extreme scrutiny to reach the success of today’s flight. We need THAAD now. Our soldiers deserve no less."

The Hera program is managed for BMDO by SMDC’s Theater Targets Product Manager LTC James D. Matthewson, Jr., in the Ballistic Missile Targets Joint Project Office, headed by COL George M. Birdsong.

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