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Navy Upper Tier / Navy Theater Wide (NTW)

The Navy Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) Program was based on the existing AEGIS Combat System (ACS) which was developed for and deployed on 27 Navy cruisers and more than 30 guided missile destroyers. It is an evolutionary program which continues the development of the STANDARD family of guided missiles, begun more than thirty years ago. The Navy Theater Wide (NTW) Program will continue this evolutionary process to enable the ACS to defend a larger area against long range TBM threats and at greater range.

The NTW system builds upon the existing AEGIS Weapon Systems (AWS) and the STANDARD Missile (SM) infrastructure as a further evolution to the Navy Area TBMD system. The AWS (as modified for Navy Area TBMD) would be evolved to support exoatmospheric ascent, midcourse, and descent phase engagements. The Navy SM-2 Block IV will be modified to accommodate a kinetic warhead (KW), a new third stage propulsion system, and exoatmospheric guidance. The new variant of the SM is the SM-3.

The Navy Theater-Wide Defense program provides an upper-tier Navy tactical ballistic missile defense capability. The Navy Theater-Wide system, which could be among the first deployed missile defense systems in a regional crisis, could provide extensive areas of protection. Specifically, Navy Theater- Wide could provide critical wide area defenses early in a conflict -- allowing U.S. and/or coalition forces to fight their way into a theater of operations while under the protective cover of missile defenses. This program is the second evolutionary stage of the joint BMDO-Navy TMD program and will build on the baseline Navy Area Defense (lower-tier) system. The Navy Theater-Wide system uses an interceptor with exoatmospheric capability, such as the BMD technology program-developed Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile (LEAP) [selected in favor or a marinized version of the THAAD interceptor missile].

The Navy Theater Wide (NTW) effort evolved from the Navy Area TBMD Program and consists of modifications to the Aegis weapon system and the integration of the Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile (LEAP) with a three-stage SM-2 Block IV missile. Navy Theater Wide was proposed to be an exo-atmospheric interceptor designed to engage enemy TBMs in the post-boost, ascent, midcourse and descent phases of its trajectory.

The Navy Theater Wide system was projected to add the same generic kind of upper-tier coverage capability as the THAAD system, again providing longer-range coverage and protecting a wider area. This system also offers ascent-phase and mid-course intercept capabilities in cases where the Aegis ship can be positioned near the launch point, and between the launch point and the target area.

The Vertical Launch System (VLS) placed constraints on the size of the interceptor. The eight-pack VLS modules on Aegis Mk 41 ships have rectangular 21 inch wide cells. These can accommodate the SM-3 NTW interceptor, which with the LEAP kill vehicle can achieve velocities in the range of 3-4.5 km/sec. The Navy had studied a 26 inch wide six-pack missile cell module that would permit larger interceptors with velocities in excess of 5 km/sec, which could accommodate the NMD EKV.

Navy Theater Wide (NTW) Developments

The requirement for the Navy Theater Wide (NTW) Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) system was to provide protection to U.S. and allied forces against medium to long range theater ballistic missiles (TBMs), which may be equipped with Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). This protection includes those political and military assets designated as vital to U.S. interests. NTW will provide an effective defense when the ship is positioned near the enemy TBM launcher to effect ascent phase intercepts; along the TBM trajectory as the TBM passes over water, or inland along the coast to effect midcourse intercepts; and, near the defended area to provide descent phase intercepts and achieve an additional layer of defense for lower-tier TBMD systems.

After a Congressionally mandated study in 1995, following the transfer of Congress to Republican control, the Navy Upper Tier was declared compliant with the ABM Treaty despite its interceptor speed. The New York Agreements on the ABM Treaty were signed in New York on 26 September 1997. In the First Agreed Statement (FAS), all parties agreed that a system would be considered a theater system, or more properly would not be considered a strategic system under Article VI(a) of the ABM treaty, if "the velocity of the interceptor missile does not exceed 3 km/sec over any part of its flight trajectory; the velocity of the ballistic target-missile does not exceed 5 km/sec over any part of its flight trajectory; and the range of the ballistic target- missile does not exceed 3,500 kilometers." As part of the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures, the Parties agreed to exchange data and test notifications on the THAAD and Navy Theater-Wide (formerly Navy Upper Tier) systems, which the United States asserted were ABM-compliant, even though the latter would exceed the interceptor velocities of the First Agreed Statement.

The conference report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, 104-450, requests the Director of BMDO to provide a status report that summarizes the findings and recommendations of the various studies associated with the proposed Navy Upper Tier (Navy Theater Wide Defense System) program, including the Department's efforts to reduce risk and enhance competition. The studies that assessed the proposed Navy Theater Wide Defense System (NTWDS) program, technical issues and deployment options are the Navy's Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis (COEA), the BMDO/Navy Blue Ribbon Review and the BMDO 'Capstone' TBMD COEA. The Department's Fiscal Year 1996 TBMD program review assessed the options for reducing risk and enhancing competition in the NTW program.

The NTW Program was in the Program Definition and Risk Reduction Phase of development. The Navy intended to propose the two-phase approach. The first phase, Block I, will address the current preponderant TBMD threat. NTW Block II will be treated as a major acquisition upgrade to the Block I Program. The Navy and BMDO are exploring funding sources above the currently approved budget to accelerate development and deployment of the initial NTW Block I. The Block II NTW system was not completely defined or fully funded.

The Navy Theater Wide system was less mature than the THAAD system. DOD restructured this program in 1996 and made it a pre-MDAP program, and decided to proceed with concept definition and a technical demonstration. The Department reevaluated this program and added about $220 million to it over the FY 1998 FYDP. This was intended to lower the risk for the flight demonstration and to accelerate the initial intercept test to first quarter fiscal year 2000.

This program was structured to proceed at the fastest prudent pace as the threat emerges given the lack of maturity of the technology, and the need to further develop the system concept to enhance robustness. There is also the opportunity to apply technology being developed for national missile defense to the NTW system. Likely areas of technology synergy include advanced sensors, guidance, and propulsion. Like other TBMD programs at this stage, the program faced significant technology as well as engineering challenges. In particular, since the LEAP kinetic kill vehicle was not yet mature, there was a need to better understand alternatives before committing to full-scale development. Planned modifications to the AEGIS combat system will provide the fire control sensor capability needed to meet operational requirements.

The effort to demonstrate NTW continues the AEGIS/Lightweight Exo-atmospheric Projectile [LEAP] Intercept program, although NTW is not funded for production. The system was developed by Raytheon Co.'s missile systems unit, Tucson, AZ, and Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems-Moorestown, Moorestown, NJ. Funding of $383 million was sought in the 2001 budget, with a total of $1.9 billion to be spent from 2000 to 2005.

Navy Theater Wide (NTW) Testing

The NTW AEGIS Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile [LEAP] Intercept (ALI) Program consisted of a series of near-term flight tests with the primary objective of demonstrating that LEAP technologies can be integrated with a modified SM-2 Blk IV and AWS to hit a TBM target in the exoatmosphere.

In July 2000 the Navy announced that USS Lake Erie (CG 70) had been designated the Navy's theater-wide test ship for the AEGIS Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile intercept flight-test series. For the next two years, the USS Lake Erie was to be dedicated to conducting these critical tests. The USS Lake Erie's homeport in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, made the ship's participation in tests at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off Kauai cost-effective. The Navy anticipates the ship will not deploy operationally again for about two years.

The NTW system was intended to be capable of high-altitude exoatmospheric intercepts of medium- and longer-range TBMs. The near term development approach included nine Aegis-LEAP intercept tests planned as of 1998 to be conducted from 1998 to 2000 and parallel risk-reduction activities in preparation for engineering development. The test program initially called for nine flight tests through 2002. This ambitious test schedule was substantially delayed. Three SM-3 tests were planned in Fiscal Year 2003 (FY03).

  1. In September 1999 the first flight test of a Theater Wide missile off Kauai, designed primarily to test the strength of the air frame, went off flawlessly.
  2. FTR-1 in July 2000 was intended to assess the performance of the SM-3 missile, including the third-stage rocket motor and jettisoning of the kinetic kill vehicle. The Navy planned to conduct the first flight test of NTW without attempting an actual intercept.
  3. On 25 January 2002 the Navy conducted Flight Mission-2 (FM-2) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii as part of the SMD Aegis Light Exo-atmospheric Projectile Intercept (ALI) experiments. Although not a goal of the exercise, the kinetic warhead (KW) intercepted the Aries target missile. FTR-2 was initially scheduled for the autumn of 2000 to test the missile's guidance system.
  4. On 13 June 2002, FM-3 took place, resulting in the destruction of an Aries missile. This time target intercept was the principal goal. FTR-3 was initially scheduled for early 2001, as the first in which the Theater Wide missile attempted to knock down an incoming target missile. In June 2000 the first intercept test was postponed from January 2001 to April or June 2001 because of problems with the Divert and Attitude Control System (DACS), the propulsion system used to guide the kill vehicle.
The AEGIS LEAP Intercept (ALI) program demonstrated the design capabilities of the SM-3 KW with a series of ground and flight tests, and culminated in two successful ballistic missile intercepts on the first two engagement missions. Flight Mission Two (FM-2) flown on 25 January 2002 and Flight Mission Three (FM-3) on 13 June 2002 were completely successful allowing the program to proceed into testbed development.

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