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Successful Sea-Based Missile Defense Intercept

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080606-08
Release Date: 6/6/2008 1:28:00 PM


From Missile Defense Agency Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering III, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director, announced the successful completion of the latest flight test of the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) element, conducted jointly with the U.S. Navy off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

The event, designated as Flight Test Maritime-14 (FTM-14), marked the fourteenth overall successful intercept, in 16 attempts, for the Aegis BMD program and the second successful intercept of a terminal phase (last few seconds of flight) target by a modified Standard Missile - 2 Block IV (SM-2 Blk IV) interceptor.

The mission was completed by the cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), using the tactically-certified Aegis BMD shipboard weapon system, modified for a terminal capability, and the modified SM-2 Blk IV. This is the 35th successful terminal and midcourse defense intercept in 43 tests since 2001.

Aegis BMD is the sea-based mid-course component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and is designed to intercept and destroy short to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats. In 2006, the program's role was expanded to include a sea-based terminal defense effort, using a modified version of the SM-2 Blk IV. Unlike other missile defense technologies now deployed or in development, the SM-2 Blk IV does not use "hit to kill" technology (directly colliding with the target) to destroy the target missile. Rather, it uses a blast fragmentation device that explodes in direct proximity to the target to complete the intercept and destroy the target.

At 8:13 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (2:13 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) a short range target was launched from a mobile launch platform 300 miles west of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. Moments later, the USS Lake Erie's Aegis BMD Weapon System detected and tracked the target and developed fire control solutions.

Approximately four minutes later, the USS Lake Erie's crew fired two SM-2 Blk IV missiles, and two minutes later they successfully intercepted the target inside the earth's atmosphere, about 12 miles above the Pacific Ocean and about 100 miles west-northwest of Kauai.

FTM-14 test objectives included evaluation of: the BMDS ability to intercept and kill a short range ballistic missile target with the Aegis BMD, modified with the terminal mission capability; the modified SM-2 Blk IV missile using SPY-1 cue; and system-level integration of the BMDS.

MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD Program. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors of Moorestown, N.J. is the Combat System Engineering Agent and prime contractor for the Aegis BMD Weapon System and Vertical Launch System installed in Aegis equipped cruisers and destroyers. Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz. is the prime contractor for the SM-2 and SM-3 missile and all previous variants of Standard Missile. The SM-2 program is managed by the Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C.

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