The US Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have successfully completed flight testing of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, USS Lake Erie (CG 70).
During tests, the onboard Aegis BMD weapon system gathered data from the in-orbit space tracking and surveillance system-demonstrators (STSS-D) to detect and track a target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, US.
A Raytheon-built SM-3 Block IA guided missile was then launched, which released its kinetic warhead to engage and destroy the threat in an interception.
The FTM-20 also demonstrated the space-based asset's capability to provide mid-course fire control quality data to an Aegis BMD ship, as well as the ability to support longer range intercepts and defence of larger areas.
Programme officials will now assess and evaluate the system performance based on the information gathered during testing.
Since the first successful flight test intercept in January 2002, the Aegis BMD has achieved 24 successful interceptions from 30 attempts to date.
The SM-3 Block IA missiles are deployed to defend against short to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats in the ascent and mid-course phases of flight.
A next-generation long-range SM-3 Block IIA missile has also been developed with a larger kinetic warhead for a greater area of defence against sophisticated threats.
Currently, some 24 Aegis BMDS have been deployed with the US Navy onboard the Ticonderoga (CG-47) class cruisers and Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers, as well as four systems with Japan Maritime Self Defence Force's Kongo-class guided missile destroyers.
Image: USS Lake Erie launches a SM-3 Block 1A interceptor during the test. Photo: US Navy photo/Released.