REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Most of us have seen a Zombie movie. Crazed creatures who are the living dead and trying to make everyone else just like them. Turns out the Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal has its own Zombies.
They're target missiles and they're referred to as Zombies for a particular reason. "Because we're taking excess missile motors from the Army that were nearing the end of their service life. They were essentially dead motors, and we brought them back to life to use them as target missiles to test missile defense systems," said Kevin Creekmore, the Project Manager for Black Dagger, the latest of the Zombie missiles to be successfully tested.
Black Dagger is the third version in the Zombie program, and its test flight was at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The two-stage missile performed well. As they say in the business, everything was nominal. "It's a big monkey off our back. We feel like we accomplished a goal that we had set in our mind five or six years ago," said Cain Crouch, the Target Test Director.
There are actually three Zombie targets that have been successfully tested, the Pathfinder, the more powerful Sabre, and the still more powerful Black Dagger. For all three the job is crucial. "Definitely, we have to know what these missile defense systems can do, because they're out there protecting our war fighters and protecting our homeland," said Cain Crouch.
He's certainly right. When defensive missiles like the Pac-3 Patriot are used to shoot down an enemy's offensive missile, they have to perform. There's an additional plus to the Zombie program. Besides being successful at the job of putting our defensive missiles through their paces, the Zombies also save millions of taxpayer dollars. "So, if you look at ten tests over the next two or three years, you're talking 200-million dollars worth of savings for the Army.
Saving lives and money definitely make the Zombie program something special. It definitely puts a smile on the faces of everyone involved in making it happen.