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LM Tracking Antenna Supports Minuteman III Flight Test

Image credit: U.S. Air Force
by Staff Writers
Vandenberg Air Force Base CA (SPX) Jun 02, 2006
A U.S. Navy missile telemetry tracking antenna developed by Lockheed Martin supported the U.S. Air Force's recent extended-range flight test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, the company announced Thursday.

Ground controllers acquired telemetry data with the S-Band Mobile Array Telemetry antenna as the unarmed missile traveled approximately 5,100 nautical miles from Vandenberg Air Force Base to a predetermined target in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam.

The Navy operated the SMART antenna, part of its Mobile Instrumentation System, aboard the oceanographic survey ship USNS Sumner. The antenna acquired and collected radio frequency data on the missile's performance. The Navy collected the data under an inter-service agreement with the Air Force to evaluate Minuteman III performance.

In addition, LM formatted the data for Air Force use in compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

"The Navy has been using this antenna system for Trident II D5 telemetry data collection for more than four years," said Bob Ghani, senior manager for fleet ballistic missile flight tests and evaluation at LM Space Systems. "The system's versatility has enabled the Navy to support the Air Force not only in the Minuteman III test flight, but also in space launch tracking."

Developed to track test launches of the Navy's Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile, the SMART antenna system can be deployed on any one of five Naval Oceanographic support ships that are used to support ballistic missile flight tests, LM said in a statement.

The entire system can be installed on a ship and be operational within a few hours. A standard 8 foot by 20 foot shelter contains receiver and recorder subsystems, test equipment, antenna control interfaces, the operator console and workstations.

Lockheed Martin delivered the SMART antenna system to the Navy's Strategic Systems Program in 2002. Since then, the service has saved an estimated $2 million a year by reducing the need for telemetry aircraft during evaluation tests of the Trident II D5.

With a 1,100 nautical-mile range, the system operates in the 2,200 megahertz to 2,400 megahertz short-band. The system scans its entire field of view (120 degrees azimuth and 80 degrees elevation) in less than three-tenths of a second and can track up to eight independent objects simultaneously.

Self-calibrating electronics overcome ship roll and pitch motion without gyro stabilization, and phased-array technology enhances signal reception. The system's modular design uses commercial-off-the-shelf components and can be reconfigured for other sea-based, land-based and airborne applications.

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