The SM-3 Block IIA is being developed cooperatively by the United States and Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor operates as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and can be launched from Aegis-equipped ships or Aegis Ashore sites. The next-generation SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is being developed in cooperation with Japan and will be deployable on land as well as at sea.
The Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor has multiple versions in development or production: the SM-3 Blocks IA, IB, and IIA. The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor has a 21-inch body diameter which provides increased speed, more sensitive seeker technology, and an advanced kinetic warhead. The SM-3 Block IIA is expected to defend against short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Additionally, most of the SM-3 Block IIA components will differ from other standard missile versions requiring new technology being developed for the majority of the SM-3 Block IIA components. This interceptor is planned to have increased range compared to earlier SM-3s.
Initiated in 2006 as a cooperative development program with Japan, the SM-3 Block IIA program was added to the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) in 2009 to defend against longer range threats. The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor was expected to provide engage on remote capability, in which data from other sensors is used to engage a target, and expand the range available to intercept a ballistic missile.
The missile, designed to be fired from Aegis ships and Aegis Ashore sites equipped with the new Aegis B/L 9.B2/C2 weapon systems, is capable of countering more advanced and longer-range threats than the currently deployed SM-3. It has two distinct new features: larger rocket motors that will allow it to defend broader areas from ballistic missile threats and a larger kinetic warhead. The SM-3 IA, IB and IIA each have a 21-in. first stage, but the IIA incorporates 21-in. second and third stages as well. The earlier models have only 14-in. diameters for these elements.
The Block IIA variant is the centerpiece of the European missile defense system. It is required for implementation of phase 3 of the Obama administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for the defense of most of Europe and the East Coast of the U.S. from a possible Iranian ballistic missile attack. SM-3 IIA, which will be ship- and ground-launched, is slated for operational use in 2018 in accordance with the EPAA plan to incrementally expand defenses in and around Europe.
The Pentagon planned to spend roughly $1.51 billion developing the SM-3 IIA, with Japan adding roughly an equal amount. MHI is developing the nose cone, second- and third-stage motors, staging assembly and steering control for the interceptor. Aerojet is building the first stage and Raytheon is manufacturing the kill vehicle.
The program held a system-level review of the interceptor’s design in October 2013, and passed with no major action items and the design met all top level requirements. Completion of at least 90 percent of engineering drawings at this point provides tangible evidence that the product’s design is stable, and a prototype demonstration shows that the design is capable of meeting performance requirements. At the critical design review, the SM-3 Block IIA program completed 100 percent of its drawings and used a prototype of key components to test its performance.
As a result of the critical design review, the SM-3 Block IIA design is complete and is proceeding to product development and testing. In June 2014, MDA approved the transition for the SM-3 Block IIA from the technology development phase to the production development phase in its acquisition process. This is where the program further refines and matures the design and manufacturing issues. Once into initial production, the program would provide an initial base for production and deliver assets for continued testing.
The program is on track for 2018 deployment at sea and on land in Poland.
The program faced some technical challenges with its Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System (TDACS), which is a key interceptor component that maneuvers the kill vehicle during the later stages of flight. The program designated the issues involving the TDACS (and its associated hardware) as a “moderate risk” that is driving up related cost significantly and causing schedule delays. MDA noted that the problems reduce the TDACS’ performance capabilities while still meeting MDA-set requirements.
The program had nine flight tests scheduled between fiscal years 2015 and 2018 and production decisions for the program prior to the Phase 3 declaration of EPAA in late 2018. The flight tests include four intercept tests and three operational tests. During that time period, the program is making its initial production decision in the middle of fiscal year 2017. Based on the program’s test schedule that is laid out, the program did not have a lot of time to make adjustments or changes to the program if a problem emerged.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the Japan Ministry of Defense, and U.S. Navy Sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a flight test 03 February 2017 (Hawaii Standard Time), resulting in the first intercept of a ballistic missile target using the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3). At approximately 10:30 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time, Feb. 3 (3:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Feb. 4) a medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. John Paul Jones detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1D(V) radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system. Upon acquiring and tracking the target, the ship launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which intercepted the target.
"Today's test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile," said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring. "The missile, developed jointly by a Japanese and U.S. government and industry team, is vitally important to both our nations and will ultimately improve our ability to defend against increasing ballistic missile threats around the world."
Based on preliminary data the test met its primary objective. Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test. The flight test, designated SM-3 Block IIA Cooperative Development (SCD) Project Flight Test, Standard Missile (SFTM)-01, was the third flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile, and the first intercept test. This test also marks the first time an SM-3IIA was launched from an Aegis ship and the first intercept engagement using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) weapon system.
Engineers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, APL led key “end-to-end” system-level performance analysis in collaboration with the government-industry team for the SM-3 Block IIA missile, cooperatively developed by the United States and Japan. APL’s high-fidelity modeling and simulation of the weapon and missile system provided key performance predictions to plan and safely execute this complex test on the flight test range.
The flight test, named SM-3 Block IIA Cooperative Development (SCD) Flight Test, Standard Missile (FTM)-01 (SFTM-01), was the third flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile but the first intercept test. As the Technical Direction Agent (TDA) for Aegis BMD, APL is an integral part of the full systems engineering life cycle, including testing and transition of the BMD capability to the fleet.
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