Ground-Based Interceptor


Ground-Based Interceptor
OBV GBI 1.jpg
A Ground-Based Interceptor loaded into a silo at Fort Greely, Alaska, in July 2004
TypeAnti-ballistic missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
Used byUnited States Army
Production history
ManufacturerOrbital Sciences Corporation, Raytheon, Boeing Defense, Space & Security
Mass21,600 kg [1]
Length16.61 m [1]
Diameter1.28 m [1]


The Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) is the anti-ballistic missile component of the United States' Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.


This interceptor is made up of a boost vehicle, constructed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, and an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), built by Raytheon. Integration of these is performed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security.[2]

The three-stage Orbital Boost Vehicle (OBV)[3] uses the solid-fuel rocket upper stages of the Taurus launcher.[4] The interceptor version deployed in the U.S. has three stages. A two-stage version was successfully tested in 2010 for use in Europe's NATO missile defence as a backup option to the preferred Aegis System Standard Missile 3.[5]

A total of 64 interceptors are planned:[6] 30 interceptors were deployed at the end of 2010 at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.[7] with fourteen additional missiles deployed by 2017, and 20 more GBIs planned. Since 2006, the Missile Defense Agency conducted seven intercept tests with the operationally configured missile, four of which were successful.[8][9][10]

The FY2021 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which was released 3 December 2020) has mandated that the Missile Defense Agency commence development of 20 interim GBIs.[11] The interim GBIs are to meet the requirements for the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV —canceled 21 Aug 2019), at minimum:[11]: see attached video 

  • Vehicle-to-vehicle communications
  • Ability to assess kills, and counter counter-measures
  • Producible
  • Use mature technology, with the ability to integrate with non-GBIs (see below)

The interim GBIs are to be completely fielded by 2026, according to the FY2021 NDAA.[11]

Next generation interceptor (NGI)

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is one source for anti-ballistic missiles for defense of the American homeland. The Next generation interceptor (NGI)[12]: 4:13  is an MDA program to upgrade the kill vehicles for the ground-based interceptors described above, but different system integrators compete to replace Boeing.[13] The competing system integrators are Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman.[13] They are tasked with meeting more complex threats than those met by the EKV.[13] There will be more near-term technology improvement to the GBI during a longer-term process for NGI to meet more complex threats.[14] The NGIs are to be fielded by 2027 or 2028.[13]

The Pentagon's Office of Cost and Program Evaluation (CAPE) estimated on April 29, 2021, that it would cost $17.7 billion to develop, deploy, and maintain the next-generation interceptor (NGI). This includes billions to build a total of 21 NGIs, each with a price tag of at least $74 million, and maybe more, depending on the exact allocation of funding for the program. As part of the first phase, the Missile Defense Agency allocated $7.6 billion in contract money to Northrop Grumman (in partnership with Raytheon) and Lockheed Martin to upgrade aging ground-based interceptors (GBIs).[15]

On 12 September 2021 a test of the GBI, which is designed to use a three-stage booster, successfully met its goal of operating as a two-stage booster for an EKV.[16] [10]


Think of it as just telling the third stage not to fire, which allows the kill vehicle to open its eyes, unbuckle its seatbelt, and get to work that much sooner. It trades the speed that the third stage would add for time. And that translates to flexibility.—Tom Karako[16]

The tracking sensors and computers (whether they be C2BMC, or IBCS, etc.), which follow the parabolic trajectories of the ballistic missile, count down the time to go needed before impact of the interceptor's kill vehicle with the targeted ballistic missile. When the tracking sensors and computers determine there is enough time to kill the ballistic missile without using the third booster stage, the kill vehicle can maneuver using its thrusters to hit the targeted ballistic missile without the third stage.[16] This increases the probability of kill, for the kill vehicle, which can instead more closely follow the targeted missile, rather than its projected parabolic trajectory.

As described, the NGI is being engineered to handle more complex situations to be able to hit maneuverable targets.


  1. ^ a b c Jim O'Halloran (15 Jan 2014). Jane's Weapons 2014/2015: Strategic (PDF). Jane's Information Group. p. 243. ISBN 978-0710631077.
  2. ^ "Fact sheet: GMD Boost Vehicle" (PDF). Orbital Sciences Corporation.
  3. ^
  4. ^ William Graham (27 June 2013). "Orbital's Pegasus XL successfully lofts IRIS spacecraft". NASA. The Orbital Boost Vehicle, developed for the US military’s Ground Based Interceptor program, uses the upper stages of the Taurus
  5. ^ Turner Brinton (June 7, 2010). "Two-Stage Interceptor Missile Succeeds in First Flight Test". Space News. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  6. ^ David Vergun, (February 22, 2019) DOD official describes missile defense strategy
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Staff Sgt. Zachary Sheely (April 5, 2019) National Guard Soldiers at forefront of most significant test in missile defense history
  10. ^ a b Jen Judson (23 Jul 2020) Cost tripled for missile defense warhead, despite prior warnings, GAO finds
  11. ^ a b c Jen Judson (3 December 2020) Congress directs DoD to build interim homeland missile defense interceptor
  12. ^ Association of the United States Army (AUSA) (12 Mar 2020) Army SMD Hot Topic 2020 - VADM Jon Hill - Dir, Missile Defense Agency
  13. ^ a b c d Jen Judson (23 Mar 2021) Here’s who will compete head-to-head to build the next homeland missile defense interceptor
  14. ^ Paul McCleary (24 Mar 2021) Big New Interceptor Deal Part Of Biden Missile Defense Push
  15. ^ Sebastien Roblin (29 April 2021) Pentagon May Spend $17.7 Billion To Deploy Just 21 Nuke-Killing Missiles
  16. ^ a b c Aaron Mehta (12 Sep 2021) US Successfully Tests New Homeland Missile Defense Capability MDA's "2-/3-Stage selectable GBI"

External links

  • Missile Defense Agency Booster Rocket Program
  • Ground-based Interceptor |