Engineers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., played an important role in the successful intercept of a separating ballistic missile target with the second-generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Weapon System and two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles.
The APL team led system-level performance analysis and evaluation for Flight Test – Standard Missile-21 (FTM-21). This operational test demonstrated the ability to fire a salvo of two SM-3 missiles to successfully engage an incoming ballistic missile target. The flight test was conducted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy Sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG 70).
At 2:30 p.m. (HST) on Sept. 18, a ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, on Kauai, Hawaii. Following the target launch, the USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship's Aegis BMD Weapon System developed a fire control solution and fired a salvo of two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to engage the target. The SM-3s maneuvered to a point in space and released their kinetic warheads. The kinetic warhead of the first missile acquired the target reentry vehicle, diverted into its path, and — using only the force of a direct impact — destroyed the target.
FTM-21 was the fourth consecutive successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB guided missile with the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System and SM-3 Block IB guided missile. This flight test improves the Aegis BMD flight test record to 27 successful intercepts in 33 attempts.