by Jason Cutshaw
SMDC/ARSTRAT Public Affairs
9/2/2015 - HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Space
and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Soldiers and
civilians have played an important role in an intercontinental ballistic
missile test executed by Air Force Global Strike Command.
An unarmed Minuteman III was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base,
California, during an operational test Aug. 19 and impacted in a
pre-established target zone roughly 4,200 miles away, near the
SMDC/ARSTRAT's Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on
Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The purpose of
the ICBM test launch program was to validate and verify the
effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system.
The Reagan Test Site is a range and test facility located 2,300 miles
southwest of Hawaii. Its sensors, including high-fidelity metric and
signature radars, as well as optical sensors and telemetry, play a role
in the research, development, test and evaluation in support of
America's defense and space programs.
Supporting the launch from Huntsville were members of SMDC assigned to
the RTS Operations Center-Huntsville. Soldiers and civilians assigned to
the ROC-H monitor sensors at the Reagan Test Site.
"RTS is a directorate in the Technical Center within SMDC," said Michael
Butler, RTS Mission Operations Division chief. "Therefore it is SMDC
that manages the Reagan Test Site in Huntsville and on Kwajalein Atoll
in the Marshall Islands. RTS is the technical side of operations that
occur on Kwajalein Atoll. Kwajalein is the physical site of all our
radars, telemetry and optics sites. The RTS Operations Center-Huntsville
is the command and control location of the technical operations."
ROC-H is the command and control facility for missile defense testing
and for space operations at RTS, despite being more than 6,500 miles
from Kwajalein. Sensors are used to follow the incoming projectile from
Vandenberg and other places and then report back to that customer how
their missile performed.
"RTS is a unique national asset," Butler said. "Geographically located
in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Kwajalein Atoll provides
opportunities for testing and data collection that would not be possible
anywhere within U.S. boundaries. The suite of instrumentation managed
and operated at RTS provides the full spectrum of data that customers
require to establish truth about what occurred during a test and allows
them to make necessary adjustments or modifications as required.
"Every test results in knowledge gained, and a thorough understanding of a system is vital to understanding how best to use it."
Included in the equipment on Kwajalein, Roi-Namur, and the other islands
in the atoll that RTS has instrumented, is the Kiernan ReEntry
Measurement Site, composed of the ARPA Long Range Tracking and
Instrumentation Radar, VHF/UHF system, the Target Resolution and
Discrimination Experiment L- and S-Band system, the Millimeter Wave
Radar Ka-Band system, and the ARPA Lincoln C-Band Observables Radar
"RTS plans the details for test operations and data collection, ensures
safety of personnel and property, and then executes the test to collect
data of interest to the range customer," Butler said. "After the test,
the data products are prepared and delivered to the customer in whatever
format they desire. Meaning that if they want raw data that comes
straight off the assets collecting, they get that. If they desire that
our team reduce the data into a different format for their ease of use,
our team will provide that. RTS is a service organization, succeeding in
providing excellent customer support.
"RTS range personnel perform a great deal of pre-mission activities to
ensure that RTS will be successful in collecting data on the objects of
interest that will be used by the Air Force for post mission analysis.
During the test we have personnel who are operating radars, telemetry,
optics, and weather instrumentation to determine range readiness for the
test and ultimately to collect data for the customer. Support and data
are what RTS provides to our customers. We also perform the actions
necessary to ensure that the range is safe to receive an incoming ICBM,
without causing damage to property or harm to personnel."
The RTS tracks approximately 50,000 objects a year through space,
including foreign and domestic satellites and other objects as small as
Butler talked about how RTS supports the warfighter and how the service
they provide is vital to helping material developers and operational
evaluators determine if the systems under test are performing as
desired. He said RTS range instrumentation is well-characterized and
provides validated, or "truth" data to the systems that are under test.
He said using the full spectrum of support that RTS offers, including
multiple radar frequencies, telemetry, and optics; combined with an
accurate meteorological picture of what atmospheric conditions were at
the time of test, the team provides data and information that is
critical to system performance evaluations.
"The mission at RTS is to provide excellent support to the warfighter
and our team takes great pride in doing just that," Butler said. "The
personnel who support RTS don't just work at RTS, they become a part of
the range. The personnel who work every day on range instrumentation
that is well-beyond the intended life, yet still succeed in making it
work on limited budgets, are able to do so because they care a great
deal about what they do and support the mission they have been charged
"The test environment truly fosters a team spirit. Everyone works toward
a common goal and everyone pitches in when work needs to get done. What
RTS does for the nation is provide a venue to test complex missile
systems and provide accurate data products that inform the nation's
leaders of how the systems are performing."