By Debbie Gregory.
A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) is a ballistic missile payload space weapon containing several warheads, each capable of being aimed to hit one of a group of targets.
More countries have or are developing long-range missile technology, including systems that can carry MIRVs and/or decoys.
Last year, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency awarded contracts to Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing to begin designing what is known as a “Multi-Object Kill Vehicle” or MOKV, which could destroy several objects in space with a single launch. Raytheon’s contract was for $9,775,608.
This program is similar to an earlier program that had been terminated.
Design work on the MOKV kill vehicle concept has been underway at Raytheon’s Advanced Missile Systems, an industry-leading technology and innovation hub.
Raytheon’s plan, which is scheduled for a concept review in December, is to load multiple MOKVs onto a single missile for launch. Each MOKV would be outfitted with multiple sensors, a steering and propulsion system and communications equipment that will allow them to hone in on an individual target and hit it, destroying the object by sheer kinetic forces.
The points of impact would take place beyond Earth’s atmosphere, but on a trajectory that would send the resulting cloud of debris back into the atmosphere, where it burn up.
A major technological challenge is figuring out how to differentiate between bombs and decoys, such as balloons that look like they might have a hydrogen bomb aboard.
The military hopes to begin proof-of-concept demonstrations late next year and a non-intercept flight test in 2018. If successful, the Missile Defense Agency would conduct an intercept test in 2019.