The Missile Defense Agency’s two Space Tracking and Surveillance System demonstration satellites successfully acquired and tracked the short-range air-launched target missile that the agency tested earlier this month, announced STSS prime contractor Northrop Grumman, Tuesday. “Air-launched targets have a wide variety of trajectories. There’s nothing predictable about their flights. The STSS demonstrators successfully tracked this target and collected key data,” said Doug Young, who heads Northrop’s missile defense and missile warning programs. A C-17 released the SRALT during the July 8 test over the Pacific Ocean off of California’s southern coast. “This was the first time the STSS sensors have been tested against air-launched targets, and they performed flawlessly,” said Bill Hart, vice president of Raytheon Space Systems, the STSS sensor provider. “Against such short-range targets, split seconds count. That’s why a near-immediate reaction system like STSS is so important to our national defense.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.