U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

Site Map


Targets and Countermeasures

Targets and Countermeasures Fact Sheet

Target launch from FTG03, a Ground-based Midcourse Defense flight test. The Missile Defense Agency's Program Director for Targets and Countermeasures oversees the design, development, manufacture, integration, and delivery of threat-representative, reliable, and cost-effective ballistic missile targets and countermeasures for the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). These targets are utilized to test, verify and validate performance of the BMDS. The program also executes pre- and post-test data reduction and identifies target characterization activities necessary to support the Missile Defense Agency's test objectives.


  • The design, performance and capabilities of the BMDS are assessed in a variety of ways, including flight testing against live targets that must accurately represent key characteristics of real-world threats to stress the BMD System.
  • Target systems include launch vehicles, payloads (including surrogate re-entry vehicles and countermeasures), launch support equipment, extensive instrumentation, and flight control stations. Since 1993, the targets program has successfully delivered more than 200 Short Range Ballistic Missiles (up to1000km), Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (1000-3000km), and Long-range (Intermediate (3000-4500km) and Intercontinental (>4500km)) Ballistic Missile threat realistic targets for test. This record of successes includes recent innovations for air-launching targets and launching targets from the Missile Defense Agency's sea-based mobile launch platform as well as ground launch.
  • Target quality, reliability, and affordability have become key initiatives as the complexity and pace of missile defense testing increases. The Missile Defense Agency developed and is executing new acquisition strategies that incorporate these initiatives. The inventory-based strategy includes procuring targets against performance specifications, increasing Mission Assurance requirements, and purchasing key components in buys. These strategies incorporate more efficient quantities, continuing reduction of development costs and a greater focus on quality.


The role of the Targets and Countermeasures Program is to develop and provide realistic targets for the BMDS. Building ballistic missile target vehicles and payloads is rocket science, and industry's products for Targets and Countermeasures will draw on the available and future technologies to emulate the threat reliably and affordably.