The US Navy and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have jointly conducted an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) 4.0.1 system flight test aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70).
During the test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-16 (FTM-16) Event 2a, a target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii to intercept the Raytheon-built Standard missile 3 (SM-3) Block 1B over the Pacific Ocean.
The AN/SPY-1 radar on board Lake Erie successfully detected and tracked the missile while the second-generation Aegis BMD 4.0.1 configuration weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched the SM-3 Block IB interceptor.
The kinetic warhead, released by the SM-3 missile, acquired the target and diverted its path using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the threat in a hit-to-kill intercept.
Designed to defend against airborne threats, the Aegis system is a surface-to-air integrated weapons platform and is also used by the navy as a tactical radar defence and fire-control system.
Aegis-equipped ships are multi-mission surface combatants, to be equipped with SM-3 missiles, which can simultaneously attack land targets, submarines and surface ships while automatically implementing defences to protect the fleet against aircraft and missiles.
About 27 Aegis BMD-equipped ships are currently available for operational deployment, of which 23 belong to US Navy and four are Japanese destroyers.
The SM-3 Block IB interceptor features a two-colour infrared seeker, an upgraded onboard signal processor and a throttleable divert and attitude control system to manoeuvre the IB interceptor to intercept.
Image: A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1B interceptor being launched from USS Lake Erie (CG 70). Photo: US Navy.