Lockheed’s Multiple Kill Vehicle-L space superiority platform promises to be the final word in the event of an intercontinental ballistic missile attack. Part of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System, the MKV-L is designed to deal with the multitudinous targets an ICBM launch would provide, rather than take out a single warhead.
ICBMs can be tricky. They act as a far-reaching delivery system for a swarm of smaller warheads — some of which are dummies to confuse opposing countermeasures — that shower a broad area in booms, bangs, fire, and general badness.
The MKV-L would respond with a barrage of its own, firing a pathfinder seeker warhead that would keep track of the number of enemy projectiles and take no prisoners, eliminating every warhead, dummy and even the delivery vehicle. Now that the milestone of a calibrated pathfinder seeker has come and gone, Lockheed is setting its sights on the next step: running tests in a true flight environment in the next year or two, and getting the system online by 2017.
As a quick aside, Lockheed needs to work on its renderings. The odd assortment of bland space balls, cones and cans aren’t really inspiring a lot of confidence in me.