Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) System, United States of America
Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system was developed by the Missile Defence Agency (MDA) in cooperation with the US Navy. It is the sea-based element of the US BMDS.
The Aegis BMD provides warships with the capability of intercepting and destroying short and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Aegis BMD is the first component of the BMDS to receive formal certification for deployment. It is also the MDA's first missile defence system acquired by a military ally (Japan).
Variants of the Aegis system
The variations of the Aegis BMD system currently in service are the 3.6.1 version and the 4.0.1 version. The MDA and the US Navy plan to deploy more advanced versions, such as the 5.0, 5.1 and 5.2, in the future.
The improved versions will be equipped with advanced processors and software, as well as upgraded variants of the SM-3 interceptor missile.
Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence system development
The Aegis BMDS was initially fielded in 2004 to deliver long range surveillance and track (LRS&T) capabilities for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The system obtained the engagement capability in 2005 and terminal capability in 2006. The Aegis BMD successfully destroyed a non-working satellite during Operation Burnt Frost in February 2008.
The European phased adaptive approach (PAA) for missile defence in Europe was announced by the Obama administration in September 2009. The PAA is intended to protect European nations from ballistic missile threats. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1bn contract by the MDA to continue the development of the Aegis BMD system in October 2009.
Aegis BMD demonstrated the European PAA phase one capability by intercepting an IRBM in 2011. It was the first Aegis BMD engagement of an IRBM using launch-on-remote capability. The USS Monterey (CG-61) was the first vessel to be deployed for Europe under European PAA phase one plan. The command and control node was installed in Germany and the forward-based radar was placed in Turkey to support the mission.
Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) upgrades are being integrated in to Aegis BMD ships and land-based facilities to counter evolving ballistic missile threats. Phase two development will deliver more advanced SM-3 Block IB missiles by 2015.
The missiles will be deployed at sea and on land. The land-based component of the BMDS is called as Aegis Ashore. The preliminary design review for the Aegis Ashore was concluded in August 2011.
The Aegis Ashore sites will be built at the Pacific Missile Range Facility and Romania, to deploy SM-3 IB interceptors. The land-based sites will protect Nato nations against the hostile ballistic missiles launched from the Middle East.
Phase three will involve the development of SM-3 Block IIA by 2018, for the deployment from Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland, and Aegis BMD ships. Phase four will deliver SM-3 Block IIB missiles by 2020 to defend IRBMs and ICBMs.
Successful Aegis BMD system flight tests
Aegis BMD successfully completed the first intercept test in January 2002 and has to date achieved 23 successful intercepts from 28 attempts. The system demonstrated 20 successful exo-atmospheric intercepts in 25 attempts using the SM-3 missile.
These firings also included three successful intercepts in four attempts by the Aegis ships of the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF). The system also performed three successful endo-atmospheric intercepts in three attempts, using the SM-2 Block IV missile.
Standard Missile-3 and SM-2 Block IV interceptors
The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is an anti-ship / land attack cruise missile.
The Aegis BMD uses the Standard Missile-3 mid-course interceptors and the Standard Missile-2 Block IV (SM-2 Block IV) terminal-phase interceptors developed by Raytheon.
The SM-3 is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles above the atmosphere during the midcourse phase of a hostile ballistic missile's flight. The missile is launched from the MK 41 vertical launching system (VLS) of the warships. It receives in-flight target updates from the ship.
The kinetic warhead (KW) is designed to destroy a ballistic missile's warhead with more than 130 megajoules of kinetic energy. The existing SM-3 Block IA version will be upgraded to SM-3 Block IB, SM-3 Block IIA and SM-3 Block IIB to counter future ballistic missile threats.
The SM-2 Block IV can engage the ballistic missiles within the atmosphere in the terminal phase of a missile's trajectory. The missile carries a blast fragmentation warhead. The SM-2 Block IV will be replaced with a new extended range SM-6 interceptor.
Features of the US MDA's system
Aegis integrates Aegis combat system, SM-3 missiles and command, control and communication systems of the US Navy and joint forces.
The Aegis BMD configured ships can detect and track ballistic missiles of all ranges and transfer target detection information to the ground-based midcourse defence interceptors in Alaska and California.
The LRS&T capability shares tracking data to cue other components of the BMDS including PAC-3, terminal high altitude area defence (THAAD) and medium extended air defence system (MEADS).
Vessels with Aegis BMD system capabilities
The Aegis BMD is deployed in five cruisers and 19 destroyers of the US Navy, as of May 2012. The Pacific Fleet and Atlantic Fleet operates 16 and eight Aegis ships respectively. The Aegis BMD capable ships in the US Navy are expected to increase in number up to 36 by 2018.
The Japan Maritime Self Defence Force operates four Aegis BMD capable ships, known as Kongo Class guided missile destroyers.
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