The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has successfully tested its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System by intercepting and destroying a threat-representative Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile. The test took place in the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii and involved the USS John Finn, a destroyer equipped with the system.
The ICBM-representative target was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, toward the ocean area. The test utilised engage-on-remote capabilities through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications (C2BMC) network as part of a defense of Hawaii scenario. After receiving tracking data from the C2BMC system, the destroyer launched a SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which destroyed the target.
This event, designated Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-44 (FTM-44), was the sixth flight test of an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel using the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile. FTM-44 satisfies a Congressional mandate to evaluate the feasibility of the SM-3 Block IIA missile’s capability to defeat an ICBM threat before the end of 2020. The SM-3 Block IIA was originally designed and built for the Intermediate-range Ballistic Missile threat set. Following this successful test, program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
The Aegis Ballistic Missile Weapons System is the naval component of the U.S. Missile Defense System, and is cooperatively managed by the MDA and the U.S. Navy. Aegis BMD ships receive tracking data via the C2BMC system, build the fire control solutions, then launch and guide the SM-3 family of missiles to destroy incoming threats. MDA’s mission is to develop and deploy a layered Missile Defense System to defend the U.S. and allies from missile attacks of all ranges in all phases of flight.
Vice Admiral Jon Hill, MDA Director, commented: “This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program. The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat. We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target, which is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland.”