Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2024 Andreas Parsch

Northrop Grumman KEI

In 2003, Northrop Grumman was selected by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) as prime contractor to develop the KEI (Kinetic Energy Interceptor) anti-ballistic missile. The KEI's rocket booster was to come from Orbital, while its hit-to-kill interceptor vehicle was to be developed by Raytheon. The KEI mission was to destroy enemy ballistic missiles a few minutes after launch in the boost/ascent phase. It was to be a mobile land-based missile, but planned to be adaptable to sea-based deployment. The development contract covered not only the missile itself, but also the launcher, command and control, and communications systems.

Photo: Orbital Sciences
KEI mockup

By 2009, component testing was underway, and the first flight of the full booster stack was planned for later that year. Then, in June 2009, the MDA terminated the whole KEI program. Quoted reasons included escalating costs, a system size, which would make usage from ships effectively impossible, and limited use cases because the lack of a sea-launch capability meant that the system couldn't be based close enough to most ballistic missile threats.

Photo: Northrop Grumman
KEI launcher


Data for KEI:

Length11 m (36 ft)
Diameter91 cm (36 in)
Propulsion2-stage solid-propellant rocket

Main Sources

[1] Wikipedia: Kinetic Energy Interceptor
[2] Northrop Grumman: Northrop Grumman-Led Team Wins Contract for Critical Missile Defense Program
[3] Reuters: U.S. kills Northrop Grumman missile-defense program

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 25 January 2024