U.S. successfully conducts SM-3 Block IIA Intercept Test against an intercontinental ballistic missile target.
US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced that the destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and the target representing the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) were hit. The test was conducted with the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile developed by Raytheon in the vast ocean space in the northeast of Hawaii.
The target representing the ICBM was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Zone located on the islands in the Republic of Marshall Islands into the vast ocean space in the northeast of Hawaii. In this developmental test, the destroyer used its remote engagement capabilities via the Command and Control Combat Management Communications (C2BMC) network as part of the Hawaiian scenario. The destroyer launched the SM-3 Block IIA missile, which destroyed the target after receiving tracking data from the C2BMC system.
“This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program,” said MDA Director, Vice Admiral Jon Hill. “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. My congratulations to the entire test team, including our military and industry partners, who helped us to achieve this milestone.”
Animation of the test:
Northrop Grumman provides ICBM for tests
ICBM, launched for testing, was produced by Northrop Grumman. “With this successful test, MDA successfully demonstrated the critical capabilities for the defense of our country, using most of Northrop Grumman’s missile defense capabilities,” said Northrop Grumman Vice President Scott Lehr.
Also known as Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-44 (FTM-44), the test was the sixth one of an Aegis BMD equipped vessel ship using the SM-3 Block IIA missile. The FTM-44, originally planned for May 2020, was delayed due to restrictions on personnel and equipment movement aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The SM-3 Block IIA was originally designed and manufactured for the medium-range Ballistic Missile threat set.
The Aegis Ballistic Missile Weapons System is the naval component of the U.S. Missile Defense System. The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD system. Aegis BMD ships (and Aegis Ashore) receive track 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., its deployed forces, allies, and friends from missile attacks of all ranges in all phases of flight.
Aegis Ashore and SM-3
The Aegis Ashore system, designed by Lockheed Martin, which is also used by Japanese forces, was designed for the detection, identification, monitoring and destruction of ballistic missiles. The SM-3 missile used by the Aegis Ashore deployed on naval platforms and on land destroys the threat with hit to kill (the method of destroying head-on without warheads) instead of detonating a warhead around the target.
The SM-3 Block IIA missile used in Aegis systems is jointly developed by the USA and Japan.