The US Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have demonstrated the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system's capability during a flight test aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, USS Lake Erie (CG 70).
During testing, the onboard second-generation Aegis 4.0 BMD weapon system fired a Raytheon-built Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missile after detecting a target, which was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in, Hawaii, US.
The missile then released its kinetic warhead to engage and destroy the sophisticated, separating short-range ballistic missile threat.
Programme officials will now assess and evaluate the system's performance based on the information gathered during testing.
The test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-19 (FTM-19), has marked a significant step forward for the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) to missile defence in Europe, validating PAA Phase 2 SM-3 Block IB capabilities for scheduled deployment in 2015.
The Aegis BMD system has been designed to provide defeat short-to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase ballistic missile threats using the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the SM-2 Block IV missile.
Recently, the second-generation Aegis BMD system received upgrades, which included the installation of faster, more powerful commercial-off-the-shelf signal processing equipment and updates to its weapon system computer programmes.
The signal processor upgrade to the Aegis BMD will provide improved target identification capabilities, while enabling the navy to strike more complex ballistic missile threats.
In addition to the open architecture BMD computing suite to improve overall system capabilities, the signal processor enables integration of more future off-the-shelf products, third-party components and turnkey solutions.
About 32 US Navy ships are expected to feature Aegis BMD by 2014.
Image: A SM-3 missile being launched from USS Lake Erie (CG 70). Photo: Courtey of the US Navy/Released.