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January 24, 1997 - Reference Number: No. 037-97

The Navy successfully demonstrated a Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) capability today when a ballistic missile target was shot out of the sky for the first time using a new version of the proven STANDARD missile family. With this intercept the Navy moved into a new era where the Navy will play an increasingly vital role in the defense of forces ashore. This joint development effort is conducted by the Navy under the direction of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. This new mission for the Navy, highlighted by today's intercept at 10:32 a.m. (EST) over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, is to defeat the growing Theater Ballistic Missile (TBM) threat.

By capitalizing on the nation's long term investment in the AEGIS fleet of cruisers and destroyers, and taking advantage of rapid advancements in missile technology, the Navy will provide protection from TBMs for debarkation ports and coastal airfields as well as U.S. and allied expeditionary troops overseas. The SM2 Block IV-A, the next generation of the STANDARD Missile, will enable the fleet to project a theater ballistic missile defense capability ashore in support of joint forces.

The modified STANDARD Missile 2 Block IV (SM2 Blk IV) which destroyed the LANCE TBM target this morning adds a state-of-the- art infrared seeker to the Navy's existing SM2 Blk IV, with reduced developmental risk. The result is superb downrange and cross range performance at extremely high altitudes against TBMs while maintaining an area defense capability against enemy aircraft and cruise missiles.

USS Lake Erie (CG 70) and USS Port Royal (CG 73), home ported in Pearl Harbor, will be the first ships to receive TBMD system modifications and SM2 Block IV-A missiles. They will conduct at-sea testing, develop core doctrine and tactics, and serve as focal points for putting the very latest theater ballistic defense technology in the hands of our sailors.

Last March, China fired a series of TBMs into the ocean near Taiwan. USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), was called on short notice to reposition and track the TBMs using its SPY-1A radar. While Bunker Hill's AEGIS Combat System recorded each missile flight in detail, it did not have a missile onboard capable of intercepting the threat. The successful TBM intercept at White Sands this morning puts in place the final building block that will complete the Navy's Area Theater Ballistic Missiles Defense System.

The Navy's first, and still primary overland mission capability rests in the versatility and strength of carrier based strike aircraft. The Navy's capacity to hit targets repeatedly and accurately is built on this foundation. Enhancing this capability is the formidable punch resident in the Navy's surface and subsurface TOMAHAWK cruise missile forces, which have achieved an outstanding operational record since their first use in DESERT STORM.

The missile flown today was integrated by the Standard Missile company (SMCo), which is jointly owned by Hughes Missile Systems Company and Raytheon Company. SMCo is the prime contractor for STANDARD missile and the design agent for development of Navy TBMD missiles.

For additional information, contact the Navy news desk at (703) 697-5342.

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