An international defense story finds its roots in north Alabama

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Redstone Arsenal, Ala. - On May 30th, the Missile Defense Agency put its Ground Based Mid Course Defense system to the test. It worked as intended. The interceptor kill vehicle destroyed a test enemy warhead in space. "this was a big deal. It was the first time we used the operational system to engage an intercontinental ballistic missile class target, which is what the system was designed to so," said Col. Chad Skaggs, the Director Air and Missile Defense Integration for The Space and Missile Defense Command.

It was certainly a big deal that G-M-D performed flawlessly. The test took a couple of years to plan. It was incredibly complex and something else. "Huntsville fingerprints are on almost every aspect of this test," said Col. Skaggs.

For one thing, the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal was the leader in planning the test of its system. Boeing Huntsville, prime contractor on the GMD program was also heavily involved. The Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone was in charge of the target missile at the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. SMDC Soldiers  at multiple sites were responsible for the interceptor response.  There's also another north Alabama connection. "It came from many of the technologies that were developed here in Huntsville, and going all the way back to Wernher Von Braun, this is really the culmination of that technology development," said the Colonel.

The test of the GMD system was successful, and North Alabama can be justifiably proud said Col. Skaggs, because something very important happened when that interceptor hit that target and destroyed it. "I think the system did a great job showing what the system's capability is and proving it to the American people that it is as advertised...executed flawlessly," said Col. Skaggs.

The Colonel also say there will be other major tests, though they do take several months to plan. Also, when new technology comes along, GMD gets an upgrade.  The idea is to keep this defense system cutting edge.