The U.S. military intercepted a medium-range missile in space over the Pacific Ocean.
The military launched the target from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai late Thursday.
Following target launch, the USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched the latest, most advanced interceptor under development to destroy it: Raytheon SM-3 Block 1B.
The SM-3 maneuvered to a point in space and released its kinetic warhead. The kinetic warhead acquired the target reentry vehicle, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the target at the highest altitude of any test to date. This test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, capable of engaging longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles.
Today’s event, designated Flight Test - Standard Missile-22 (FTM-22), was the fifth consecutive successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB guided missile with the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System. Findings of operational tests, FTM-21 and 22 will support follow-on production decisions for the SM-3 Block IB guided missile. FTM-22 is the 28th successful intercept in 34 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.
"This threat scenario against a medium-range target represented the potential threats that we’re facing in today’s defense environment – and this latest Aegis BMD mission success, run by the Sailors of the USS Lake Erie, demonstrated the readiness of our missile defense capabilities to take on those threats,” said Nick Bucci, director of BMD development programs at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “As the targets and threat scenarios become more advanced, our Aegis BMD system is keeping pace with innovative solutions to safeguard our global security.”
The Aegis BMD 4.0.X configuration enables the Navy to quickly defeat sophisticated ballistic missile threats by integrating sensors from space, land and sea for persistent and reliable detection. The central component of the Lockheed Martin-developed Aegis BMD Combat System is the SPY-1 radar, the most widely fielded naval phased array radar in the world. The Aegis system and SPY-1 radar provide the U.S. and allied nations with advanced surveillance, anti-air warfare and missile defense capabilities.
The Missile Defense Agency and Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System. Currently, 27 Aegis BMD-equipped warships have the certified capability to engage ballistic missiles and perform long-range surveillance and tracking missions, as well as an additional four ships in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The U.S. Navy plans to procure seven new Aegis BMD-equipped destroyers, and has also planned to develop two Aegis Ashore systems to perform ballistic missile defense.