Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Scores Another Hit

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1A interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test in the Pacific Ocean. The SM-3 Block 1A successfully intercepted a target missile that had been launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1A interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test in the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

This photo is pretty impressive, but the story behind it is even more impressive.

It shows the test of the Navy’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, the sea-based component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System.

So what happened during this joint MDA and Navy test?

  • At 11:10 p.m. HST Tuesday, a medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, on Kauai, Hawaii.
  • The target flew northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean.
  • The in-orbit Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrators detected and tracked the target.
    Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrators (Source: Northrop Grumman)

    Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator (Source: Northrop Grumman)

     

  • It forwarded track data to USS Lake Erie (CG 70), which is equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, to engage the target with Launch on Remote doctrine.
  • The ship developed a fire control solution from the STSS-D track and launched the SM-3 Block IA guided missile approximately five minutes after the target launched.

  • The SM-3 intercepted the target and vaporized it following a direct-hit minutes after its launch.

This marked the first live-fire intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile using space-based sensors. It was the 24th successful intercept in 30 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.