Missile Defense Agency Completes Third Intercept of Ballistic Missile Target by SM-3 Block IIA Missile Interceptor

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Navy completed the third successful intercept of a ballistic missile target by a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile interceptor.

The test, designated Flight Test Integrated-03 (FTI-03), was an operational live fire test demonstrating the Aegis Weapon System Engage On Remote capability to track and intercept an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) target with an Aegis Ashore-launched Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor.

The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor was launched from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Kauai, Hawaii.

FTI-03 consisted of an IRBM target, air-launched by a U.S. Air Force C-17 from the broad ocean area thousands of miles southwest of the Aegis Ashore Test site that launched the interceptor. The engagement leveraged a ground, air and space-based sensor/command and control architecture linked by the Ballistic Missile Defense System’s Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) suite.

The test evaluated the system’s overall performance and achieved three milestones for the IIA variant:

+ The first successful intercept from a land-based launch.
+ The first intercept of an intermediate-range ballistic missile target.
+ The first intercept using tracking data from remote sensors, known as “engage on remote.”

Based on preliminary data, the test met its objective, and program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test, said MDA in a statement.

“Today’s successful flight test demonstrated the effectiveness of the European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase 3 architecture. It also was of great significance to the future of multi-domain missile defense operations and supports a critical initial production acquisition milestone for the SM-3 Block IIA missile program,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “This system is designed to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends from a real and growing ballistic missile threat. I offer my congratulations to all members of the team, military, civilian, contractors and allies who helped make this possible.”

The missile is developed by American defence major, Raytheon.

Raytheon’s missile defense solutions continue to expand the defended area by protecting against increasingly sophisticated threats with the use of remote sensors. In this test, Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar served as a remote sensor, tracking and providing the missile with data on the incoming threat, instead of using the phased-array connected to the Aegis Ashore system.

“This is a versatile and sophisticated missile,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. “Our partnership with the Missile Defense Agency and Japanese industry made these results possible.”

The IIA variant has larger rocket motors and a bigger kinetic warhead, raising its effectiveness against evolving threats. The advanced missile obliterated a medium-range ballistic missile target at sea in October. SM-3 is the only ballistic missile interceptor that can be launched at sea and on land, and has achieved over 30 intercepts in space.

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