“This was one of the best, most accurate flights I’ve been part of in my 25 years of missile flight tests,” Jeff A. Compton, launch director and mission assurance lead in the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command Technical Center’s System Engineering Directorate, expressed in a Thursday release published by the command.
The event in question was a presentation of the ability of the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) to intercept a Black Dagger short-range ballistic missile target. “Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment demonstrated the system's capability by intercepting Black Dagger with a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile,” the release claimed.
However, other sources present at the August 20 test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, clarified to Inside Defense that a PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) missile, an older Patriot variant, was used to chase and destroy the tactical ballistic missile target after the more advanced MSE malfunctioned.
Col. Phil Rottenborn, the IBCS project manager for the Army’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, told Defense News that “the [IBCS] did what it was designed to do” when it deployed the CRI after the MSE weapon misfired.
The CRI missile was successful in taking out the Black Dagger target.
“Root cause analysis on the MSE misfire is ongoing, but preliminary indications are that all IBCS commands to the launcher were executed successfully,” Rottenborn said, “and that the error may lie within the missile, but further analysis is required to determine that with certainty.”
“That is one of the ironies of working on targets, you can do everything perfect on your side but if the interceptor fails, it’s not a successful mission,” Compton claimed in the Thursday service release.
“The target performance was almost perfect,” he stated.
Nevertheless, Rottenborn assured Defense News earlier this week that the MSE weapon is “a proven and capable missile with a great track record, and I’m confident the team will sort this out quickly.”