US Navy and MDA conduct Flight Test Aegis Weapon System 33
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US Navy and MDA conduct Flight Test Aegis Weapon System 33

26 Jul 2021 (Last Updated July 26th, 2021 12:18)

Firing was performed by the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114).

US Navy and MDA conduct Flight Test Aegis Weapon System 33
The guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) transits the Arabian Gulf. Credit: US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew F. Jackson.

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the US Navy have conducted a missile defence flight test over the ocean northwest of Hawaii.

Conducted on 24 July, the test is known as ‘Flight Test Aegis Weapon System 33’ (FTM-33).

During the test, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) launched four Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Dual II missiles to intercept two short-range ballistic missile targets.

According to the service, one target was successfully intercepted based on initial observations.

The navy said it ‘cannot confirm’ if the second target was hit.

It said: “Programme officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon data obtained during the test.”

FTM-33 is considered to be the ‘most complex’ MDA-executed mission. It is the third flight test of an Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD)-equipped vessel using the SM-6 Dual II missile.

It was originally scheduled for December last year. However, the test was delayed due to a halt in workforce and equipment movement to contain the spread of the ongoing pandemic.

The SM-6 missile is a weapon system that comprises three missiles in one. It can perform anti-air warfare (AAW), ballistic missile defence, and anti-surface warfare (ASW) missions.

It is designed for use in the terminal phase of a short-to-medium-range ballistic missile trajectory.

In April, the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) successfully launched an Extended Range Active Missile (SM-6) missile.