Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) being launched

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), US Pacific Command and US Navy have successfully completed the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system operational flight test aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70).

During the Flight Test Standard Missile-22 (FTM-22), the Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system deployed onboard USS Lake Erie detected and launched the target missile using onboard AN/SPY-1 radar and launched Raytheon-built standard missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missile.

Following the launch, the missile successfully destroyed a medium ballistic missile target that was launched from the Pacific Missile Range facility on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and training business BMD development programmes director, Nick Bucci, said the Aegis BMD system is in place, as the targets and threat scenarios become more advanced, with innovative solutions for global security.

The naval component of the MDA’s ballistic missile defense system, Aegis BMD has been designed to defeat short to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase ballistic missile threats using the SM-3 missile.

"We remain on track to deliver this critical capability in time for a 2015 deployment."

Raytheon Missile Systems president Dr Taylor Lawrence said: "We remain on track to deliver this critical capability in time for a 2015 deployment in support of global combatant command requirements, and specifically phase two of the European Phased Adaptive Approach."

The system performance will be assessed and evaluated by programme officials based upon telemetry and other data gathered during the FTM-22 event.

Findings of the two operational tests including FTM-21, which were conducted last month and FTM-22 will support follow-on SM-3 Block IB guided missile production decisions.

The weapon system also utilises Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IV missile to destroy short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase.

The MDA and the US Navy jointly manage the Aegis BMD programme.

Image: Japanese Navy ship launches a SM-3 missile. Photo: Image courtesy of MDA.

Defence Technology