The Missile Defense Agency successfully completed a flight test involving the launch of a Short Range Air Launched Target (SRALT) at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division-Point Mugu Sea Range, California. This flight test, designated FTX-17, successfully demonstrated an upgraded air launch and umbilical pull separation system, which had been redesigned to correct problems identified during previous tests.
At 7:04 p.m. PDT (10:04 p.m. EDT) on July 8, 2011, the SRALT missile was deployed from a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport aircraft over the Pacific Ocean approximately 500 miles west of the California coast. The target missile was extracted from the rear of the C-17 aircraft by parachute. The missile's rocket motor then ignited, sending it on a planned trajectory over the Pacific Ocean.
The target missile's flight was successfully tracked by several missile defense sensors in California, including an AN/TPS-59 Tactical Missile Defense Radar at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, an X-band AN/TPY-2 radar at Vandenberg AFB, and the Upgraded Early Warning Radar at Beale AFB. Preliminary indications are that all data collection objectives were met.
This flight test was also used as a target of opportunity for several emerging missile defense technologies. Two Space Tracking Surveillance System (STSS) demonstration satellites tracked the target and transmitted data to the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). This was the first demonstration of stereo acquisition and track handover of a short range target by the STSS satellites. Other participants included the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) Experimentation Laboratory, Integrated Sensor Manager, Enterprise Sensors Laboratory (ESL), Near-Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE), and the Airborne Infrared (ABIR) program.