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    STRATCOM commander witnesses RTS professionalism

    STRATCOM commander witnesses RTS professionalism

    Courtesy Photo | Lt. Gen. Sean A. Gainey, commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense...... read more read more



    Story by Jason Cutshaw 

    U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – A U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command team played an important behind-the-scenes role in supporting the Air Force’s Glory Trip-249, June 4, and GT-250, June 6.

    Two unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, during Air Force Global Strike Command’s operational test and impacted in a pre-established target zone roughly 4,200 miles away near USASMDC’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. RTS is a range and test facility located 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii.

    Gen. Anthony J. Cotton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and Lt. Gen. Sean A. Gainey, commanding general of USASMDC, witnessed the first of two ICBM tests. The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system and to ensure the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter 21st century threats and reassure America’s allies.

    “The history and enduring partnership between the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the United States is critical to the peace and stability around the globe in this time of rapidly developing technology,” Cotton said. “Simply put, the mission of Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site cannot be completed anywhere else on Earth. Having a partnership like this is vital to the deterrence mission.”

    RTS sensors, including high-fidelity metric and signature radars, as well as optical sensors and telemetry, play a role in the research, development, test and evaluation in support of America’s defense and space programs. RTS provides range instrumentation, ground range safety, meteorological support and data analysis and uses a full spectrum of support, including multiple radar frequencies, telemetry, and multiple high-speed optical and camera systems to capture every measurable data opportunity and provide information critical to system performance evaluations.

    RTS is one of the major range and test facility bases supporting Glory Trip missions in the terminal phase of flight on behalf of the Air Force customer and tracks vehicles down range. For GT-249 and GT-250, RTS provided scoring data from when the vehicle impacts into the Kwajalein Missile Impact Scoring System.

    Lt. Col. Casey A. Rumfelt, RTS range director, said the biggest challenge with a rapid mission set like this is the pre- and post-mission work that is associated with each one.

    “Every mission regardless of the name is doing something a little bit different,” Rumfelt said. “Additionally, the compact timeline doesn't allow for any response to something unforeseen. What I mean by that is if one test is delayed for any reason it puts the follow-on mission at risk.

    “Our planning must take into account all contingencies,” he added. “To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, ‘A failure to plan is planning to fail,’ and it’s certainly true in this case.”

    Rumfelt said RTS works closely with mission partners years before a test to ensure the objectives of the test are met on the day of flight. He added that months before the test, the RTS team ensures sensors and equipment are calibrated and prepared to collect vital information from the system being tested.

    Then finally, he said, RTS provides a safe environment for the U.S. to conduct the test.

    “The capability that RTS manages on behalf of the United States informs future development and employment of weapon and defense systems that ensure the enduring freedom of our citizens,” Rumfelt said. “Not to overexaggerate, but without the capability of this range, the United States would have never achieved superpower status on the global scale. Yes, it’s that critical.

    “RTS is a small part in the overall test of the system,” he added. “RTS, both here on Kwaj and in Huntsville, primarily ensures that the systems are ready to collect and ensures a safe environment to collect that data during the testing window.”

    Rumfelt said this piece of ground could not be purchased at any price today.

    “The testing done here keeps the United States at a tactical edge,” Rumfelt said. “Our space mission provides a unique level of situational awareness that physically cannot be done from another location. The efforts made to support RTS are worth the price as this unit provides a value greater than the cost.”

    Dr. Thomas Underwood, deputy range director and lead engineer, said the RTS range provides a location where the most advanced long-range weapon systems in the world are safely tested.

    “RTS’ isolation affords the conditions required to keep eyes and ears on our competitors,” Underwood said. “We should ensure that the nation understands that RTS’ capabilities are hard won and extremely expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. RTS is an invaluable asset for America’s long-term national defense.”

    Rumfelt went on to say that RTS could not do its assigned tasks without the incredible support from all its partners including the U.S. Army Garrison - Kwajalein Atoll team that works very hard to make everything possible.

    “This is RTS’ version of the Super Bowl, and we were ready,” Rumfelt said. “To my knowledge, we have never had back-to-back Glory Trip missions like we had in early June with a follow-on major test that we will conduct later in the month. Make no mistake, the current level of testing is a good sign for the United States and our allies.

    “This level of testing, combined with the honor of hosting Gen. Cotton and Lt. Gen. Gainey as they witness firsthand GT-249’s outstanding accomplishment will go down in the history books for Kwajalein,” he added.


    Date Taken: 06.06.2024
    Date Posted: 06.06.2024 19:54
    Story ID: 473254

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