The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), together with the US Navy, has successfully completed the first land-based launch of Raytheon’s Standard Missile (SM)-3 block IB guided missile from the Aegis Ashore weapon system near the Pacific missile range facility (PMRF) off Kauai.
During the non-intercept test, called Aegis Ashore controlled test vehicle (AA CTV)-01, the land-based system successfully launched and controlled the missile against a simulated target.
The test was aimed at demonstrating the ability to offer proven defence capabilities against a ballistic missile threat.
With an intercept flight test of the Aegis Ashore system planned in 2015, the latest launch supports the development of the weapon system’s capability in phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA).
Raytheon Missile Systems president Dr Taylor Lawrence said that the capability to deploy the SM-3 at sea and on land gives combatant commanders operational, deployment and logistical flexibility.
"The missile can be used in either construct in varying missions and locations with no modification," Lawrence said.
Built by Lockheed Martin, the Aegis Ashore system uses a similar configuration to the vertical launch system, fire control system and SPY-1 radar, which are currently operational on globally deployed Aegis cruisers and destroyers.
The SPY-1 radar is reportedly the most common naval-phased array radar in the world, offering the US and allied nations advanced surveillance, anti-air warfare and missile defence capabilities.
Capable of launching SM-3 block IAs, IBs and IIAs (2018), the first Aegis Ashore site is scheduled to start operations in Romania in 2015, with the second one on track for Poland in 2018.
Image: The launch of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) block 1B guided missile from the USS Lake Erie. Photo: courtesy of MDA.