The US Navy and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have successfully completed the third ballistic missile intercept flight test of a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA.

Developed by Raytheon, SM-3 is designed to combat short and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.

During the Flight Test Integrated-03 (FTI-03), the Lockheed Martin-built Aegis Combat System, Baseline 9.B2.0 (BMD 5.1), engaged and intercepted an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) target air-launched by a US Air Force C-17 aircraft.

The target was intercepted with an Aegis Ashore-launched SM-3 Block IIA interceptor.

The operational live fire test demonstrated the Aegis weapon system’s ability to use tracking data from remote sensors and the SM-3 missile’s overall performance.

It also showed the integrated and interoperable capabilities of the Aegis weapon system to engage based on ground-based radar track and discrimination data provided by Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC).

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“It was of great significance to the future of multi-domain missile defence operations.”

MDA director lieutenant general Sam Greaves said: “Today’s successful flight test demonstrated the effectiveness of the European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase III architecture. It also was of great significance to the future of multi-domain missile defence operations and supports a critical initial production acquisition milestone for the SM-3 Block IIA missile programme.

“This system is designed to defend the US, its deployed forces, allies, and friends from a real and growing ballistic missile threat. I offer my congratulations to all members of the team, military, civilian, contractors and allies who helped make this possible.”

According to the US Navy, the preliminary data suggest that the test met its objective. A final call on the system performance will be based on the assessment of telemetry and other data.

In October, the navy demonstrated the capabilities of the Aegis combat system and SM-3 Block IIA guided missile. The test firing took place on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113).

Raytheon noted that the test was SM-3 Block IIA variant’s first successful intercept from a land-based launch.