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Vandenberg launches Scuds on data-seeking mission

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- The Missile Defense Agency launched two Scud missiles from here to learn more about the infamous Persian Gulf killer.

The agency is collecting data as part of a three-year research program to aid in the development of missile defense technologies designed to intercept and destroy Scuds and Scud-type missiles before they can reach their intended targets.

The first was launched Nov. 14 and the second on Nov. 25. The agency launched the 36-foot, short-range missiles, complete with mock warhead, to learn more about the Scud's flight characteristics.

Before each of the launches, technicians placed a variety of sensors on the Scud to collect data on the speed, attitude, altitude, engine burn rate and other flight characteristics.

Data from the two launches here as well as other program tests will be released in a report in late 2003, said MDA spokesman, Chris Taylor.

This test was the first time a Scud has been launched from Vandenberg. It is also the first time MDA, formerly the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, has launched a Scud since 1997, when Scuds were launched as targets to test the defensive Patriot Advanced Capability-2 system. "It helps us when we're developing the advanced Patriot (missile)," said Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, MDA spokesman. "The Scud is the most proliferated missile in the world. More than 20 countries have them. That's the one you'll be up against."

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