WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Navy completed a successful flight test in the continuing development of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System Nov. 21.
Flight mission-4 (FM-4) involved the firing of a developmental Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) from the Aegis ballistic missile defense cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) to engage a ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.
"The success of this flight test utilizing the FM-4 configured SM-3 missile is a major milestone for our naval team and the work we are doing to protect
our fleet, country and allies from the threat of attack," said Secretary of the Navy Gordon England. "Working together, planners, contractors, and the crew of USS Lake Erie successfully demonstrated the Aegis BMD system's capability to effectively engage a
ballistic missile target."
"This is a watershed success in the continued
development of a layered ballistic missile defense program."
The target was launched at 2:30 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (7:30 p.m. EST). Lake Erie, equipped with Aegis BMD computer programs and equipment, developed a fire control solution without any external sensor inputs. Within two minutes after target launch, the Aegis Weapon System fired the SM-3 guided missile. Approximately two minutes later, the missile's kinetic warhead acquired, tracked and diverted into the target, demonstrating the Aegis BMD system's capability to engage the ballistic missile target in the ascent phase. This was the third consecutive target intercept.
The primary objective of this test was to demonstrate the Aegis BMD system's capability to engage the ballistic missile target in the ascent phase of flight. Extensive engineering evaluation data has been collected for analyses in preparation for future flight tests. Project officials will evaluate the data and incorporate changes as required.
With the success of the FM-3 flight test June 13, the Aegis BMD project has accelerated its flight-testing objectives. The latest test, FM-4, marked the beginning of a six-flight test series to develop an emergency deployment sea-based ballistic missile defense against short-to-medium range ballistic missiles. FM-4 is the first developmental flight test against more complex and stressing ballistic missile engagement scenarios. An extensive ground test program had already conducted successful testing of elements of the Aegis BMD system.
MDA and the Navy manage the Aegis BMD Project. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is the prime contractor for the development of the SM-3 missile. Lockheed Martin Naval Electronic and Surveillance Systems, Moorestown, N.J., manages the development of the Aegis Weapon System installed in Aegis cruisers and destroyers.
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