NORCO, Calif. (NNS) -- The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona delivered its first quick-look analysis Sept. 13 of the Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) test earlier this week, kicking off the collaborative assessment process for the first operational test of the nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS).
The test, named Flight Test Operational-01 (FTO-01), took place near the Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site and surrounding areas in the western Pacific and marked the first time combatants in different regions defended against near-simultaneous ballistic missile launches.
During the test, MDA successfully integrated Navy destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) with the Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and a space-based infrared detection system.
"This was a great feat for our Navy and the nation as we move toward an operational ballistic missile defense system," said Capt. Eric Ver Hage, commanding officer of NSWC Corona, a Naval Sea Systems Command field activity based in Norco. His command served as the lead analysis and assessment agent of the Navy's system in the test - Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) - providing missile telemetry and combat system data collection.
To conduct the test, MDA launched two medium-range ballistic missile targets in close sequence toward Kwajalein.
An Army-Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control (AN/TPY-2) radar detected the target and relayed track information to the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) system, which integrated, analyzed and synchronized combatants to formulate a real-time threat response among participating units.
The crew of Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Decatur provided the Navy's operational element, tracking and intercepting the first target missile with a missile of its own - a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA. Soldiers from the Alpha Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment provided the Army's operational element, using the THAAD system to intercept the second target.
Aboard Decatur, NSWC Port Hueneme's Aegis BMD personnel extracted data from the ship's system, which subsequently traveled on Corona's innovative mini-Ku band satellite back to shore. The mini-Ku system cuts data transmission time by more than 95 percent from earlier versions, sending all missile telemetry and Aegis combat system data to the warfare center's Joint Warfare Assessment Laboratory (JWAL) where analysts from gathered to provide live monitoring of test data.
Initial data indicated the test elements performed as designed, but MDA officials have ongoing evaluations using the test data, starting with Corona's quick-look analysis.
"NSWC Corona will collaborate with the MDA Joint Analysis Team and Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force to provide an overall assessment of the BMDS from both an engineering and an operational perspective," said Tony Jones, NSWC Corona's Aegis BMD assessment lead.
As a core mission for the Navy, Aegis BMD capability defeats short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats with SM-3, as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2).
Since the 1970s, Corona's sister division at NSWC Dahlgren has been intimately involved in the development, test, certification and fielding of almost every new baseline of the Aegis Weapon System (AWS), providing an integrated system that supports warfare on several fronts - air, surface, subsurface and strike.
At sea, the Navy has 28 Aegis BMD combatants - five Ticonderoga Class Cruisers and 23 Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyers - with 16 assigned to the Pacific Fleet and 12 to the Atlantic Fleet. MDA and the Navy plan to increase the number of BMD-capable ships to 30 by the end of 2013.
"As a former ship's captain, I'm excited by the positive results we're seeing," Ver Hage said. "Corona has been providing independent assessment of guided missile systems for nearly 50 years, and the progress our military is making toward building a comprehensive ballistic missile defense system is truly remarkable. It's an awesome capability we absolutely need."
As part of the Navy's Science and Engineering Enterprise, NSWC Corona leads the Navy in independent assessment, measurement and calibration standards and range systems engineering. The warfare center is home to three premier laboratories and assessment centers - the JWAL, the Measurement Science and Technology Lab, and the Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center -and employs approximately 2,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel at its headquarters in Norco and at its detachment at Seal Beach, Calif.