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The mission of the Navy Area Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system is designed to provide United States and allies, defense against short to medium range Theater Ballistic missiles. The Navy Area BMD Program deployed a User Operational Evaluation System (UOES) termed "Linebacker" on two ships, USS Lake Erie (CG-70) and Port Royal (CG-73). As of the second quarter of FY 1999, an interim Navy Area Theater Ballistic Missile Defense software capability, Linebacker, was deployed and put into operation on these ships. These two ships have been crucial to the development and validation of BMD tactics, techniques, and procedures, as well as risk reduction in the development of the final integrated Area BMD capability.

Developed for use aboard Navy AEGIS Cruisers and Destroyers LINEBACKER is an enhanced AEGIS Weapon system with computer modifications and equipment designed to provide initial theater ballistic missile defense intercept capability against short-to-medium-range theater ballistic missiles. LINEBACKER, capitalizing on rapid advancements in missile guidance, propulsion, and seeker technology, allows a ship to detect, track and engage theater ballistic missiles using the STANDARD Missile Block IVA that was under development and the existing Vertical Launching System.

Linebacker, the Navy's frontline TBMD system, provides a defense against the increasing threat of ballistic missile attack to U.S. forward deployed forces and allies. It is a modification to the Aegis weapon system that allows Aegis ships to detect and track Theater Ballistic Missiles (TBMs) autonomously or through cueing from external sources. External TBM tracking or cueing data is communicated using the tactical data Link-16.

The first successful live target tracking exercises for the LINEBACKER program was conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, (PMRF), Kauai, Hawaii from 18-20 November 1999. The USS LAKE ERIE (CG-70) and USS PORT ROYAL (CG-73), successfully tracked a Terrier Missile Target and a Target Test Vehicle. The Aegis cruisers demonstrated the capability to pass target cueing and tracking information to each other as well as other joint Theater Missile Defense (TMD) systems.

  • A modified Standard Missile-2 Terrier AAW missile that was renamed Terrier Missile Target-2 (TMT-2) was launched Nov. 18. Launched from Kauai, the Terrier flew the predicted trajectory to an apogee of 54 miles and landed approximately 143 miles downrange, meeting test objectives.
  • On Nov. 20 the Navy Target Test Vehicle-1 (TTV-1) was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, reaching an apogee of 200 miles and landing in the ocean northwest of Kauai 309 miles downrange. Powered by Orbital Sciences Corp.'s M56A1 booster, the vehicle is the target for the Aegis Lightweight Exo-atmospheric Projectile (LEAP) intercept program.

TTV is the Navy Theater Wide [NTW] target for the AEGIS LEAP Intercept program. The program's objective was to demonstrate the ability to integrate the STANDARD Missile-3 with the AEGIS weapon system and intercept a ballistic target in space.

The USS Russell (DDG 59) successfully collected data to support the development of radar discrimination techniques. The SPY-1 radar system was modified to produce different radar pulses to enhance discrimination from the ship. Target discrimination is a key challenge in the NTW system. All objectives of the tests were met.

In addition to the two Aegis ships tracking, Boeing Airborne Surveillance Testbed (AST) successful track the two missiles with the Navy's new Captive Carry SM-3 seeker built by Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz. The AST aircraft, a modified 767 with a large cupola positioned above the fuselage, used an infrared sensor, Captive Carry, installed in the AST's cupola to successfully acquired and tracked both targets throughout their trajectory. The AST is managed by the BMDO and operated by Boeing, Seattle, WA.

Participants in Autumn Events included the US Marine Corps Air Defense Communication Platform located at Camp Pendleton, CA, and U.S Army's PATRIOT and THAAD systems located in Huntsville, AL. Other key participants in the link architecture were a Gulfstream-1 aircraft acting as an airborne relay, the PMRF range, and the Navy Center for Tactical System Interoperability. Data is currently being analyzed with the aim of improving Navy interoperability with other TBMD systems.

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