Jeffrey LewisMultiple Kill Vehicles (MKV)

Ever seen a mock-up of the Multiple Kill Vehicle interceptor?

I lunched at the Army & Navy Club today, attending the George C. Marshall Institute’s Washington Roundtable on Science and Public Policy with MDA Deputy for Advanced Systems Gary Payton.

I expect the Marshall Institute will post a transcript and Payton’s briefing, entitled Advanced Concepts in Missile Defense.

Payton (right) talked a lot about the Multiple Kill Vehicles (MKV, nee Miniature Kill Vehicles) program, bringing along a mockup (above).

The Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) explains the basic idea:

The MKV system will provide a cost effective means for addressing countermeasure suites by intercepting all credible threat objects within a threat cluster with one or more kill vehicles. Practical use of low cost kill vehicles for these applications will require: 1) proper balance of functions between the carrier vehicle and the kill vehicles; and 2) substantial reduction of kill vehicle size, mass, and acquisition cost.

(More from MDA).

Payton said he hoped the MKV program would reach technological readiness level 5 or 6—“breadboard” or experimental models—by FY 07.

Payton outlined remaining challenges for the program in order of priority: micro-electro-mechanical systems, battle management systems, MKV software and then integration issues. (Michael Katz-Hyman actually took notes).

Baker Spring asked if the MKV could be based in space. Payton said no, not as designed, but allowed that components such as MEMS could certainly assist an SBI program. Baker seemed disappointed.

Previously funded in the BMD Technology (PE 603175C) within project 0502 in Engagement Systems, MKV is now funded in BMD Midcourse Defense (PE 0603882C) within project 0515 Multiple Kill Vehicles. Total funding is $82.0 M in 2006 and $1.3 B though FY 2011.


  1. dan (History)

    OK, $82m in 2006, but how much have they spent so far? I want to know their budget for spiffing up that cocktail shaker.

  2. Muskrat (History)

    I see the gang at ACME are at it again. So the assumption is that our ability to miniaturize and multiply kill vehicles will in no way be outpaced by other nations’ ability to miniaturize and multiply decoys? What aspects of the two technologies support that idea?

    Don’t get me wrong—I think the idea of spending the next few decades in a race to make MKVs that will never be used is a great way to spend our time and energy … I just think Apple should do it instead of those losers at MDA. Apple’s products work out of the box, they’re used to battling evil empires, they’re always making stuff smaller, and it might finally make missile defence cool.

  3. EearlK (History)

    Oh yes, let’s find more rat holes to pour billions into. God forbid there should be any money left over for a transport plane that works, or a radio system that integrates with anyone else. There is just no margin on that common stuff, it is sooo utilitarian.

  4. Theresa Hitchens (History)

    I’m just really happy that Gary disappointed Baker.

  5. Allen Thomson (History)

    The interesting thing about MKV is that it is a more or less explicit recognition that discrimination is really, really iffy. “Kill them all” is the way to go—if you can. For years BMDO/MDA dealt with the discrimination problem by, well, lying about it. Starting a couple of years ago they seem to have started down a somewhat more realistic path. Whether or not it turns out to be feasible and sufficient is TBD.

    It is also interesting that the .mil pages discussing MKV pretty much crib from the evil liberal UCS discussions about discrimination-defeating countermeasures