test marked the eighth successful intercept in ten flight tests
for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program, and the
27th successful hit to kill intercept in tests since 2001.
It also marked the first flight test of all the SM-3 Block
IA’s upgrades, previously demonstrated only in ground
tests; it also demonstrated the effectiveness of engineering,
manufacturing, and mission assurance changes in the solid divert
and attitude control system (SDACS) in the kinetic kill weapon.
The engagement started on 11:31 a.m. Hawaii Time, when a short-range
ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile
Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii. At the same time, a target
simulating a hostile high performance aircraft or cruise missile
was launched from a Navy aircraft. The Aegis cruiser, equipped
with the Ballistic Missile Defense 3.6 Weapon System, detected
and tracked both targets and developed fire control solutions.
Approximately one minute later, the Lake Erie’s crew fired
the SM-3 and SM-2 missiles.
missiles received continuous updates on the target's location
during their flight, enabling the third stage to shape its flight
profile to narrow the intercept envelope before handing off
terminal guidance to the kinetic warhead (KW). On the terminal
phase, the KW commanded the SDACS to perform a series of maneuvers
to keep the SM-3 on target all the way to a lethal intercept.
Two minutes after launch both missiles successfully intercepted
their respective targets. The SM-3 intercept occurred approximately
100 miles above the Pacific Ocean and 250 miles northwest of
Kauai, through a “hit to kill” direct impact with
The test, designated Flight Test Mission-11, was the second
with the Block IA version of SM-3 and the first IA with a full-capability
solid divert and attitude control system. (SDACS). This system
maneuvers the kinetic warhead (KW) to the target using multiple
pulses of gas generated by the SDACS propellant. Boeing (NYSE:
BA) builds several components of the KW, including the guidance
electronics, which it integrates with the Raytheon infrared
seeker. Alliant Techsystems (NYSE:ATK) is providing the Third
Stage Rocket Motor (TSRM) and the Solid Divert and Attitude
Control System (SDACS) the missile's kill vehicle.
The Aegis BMD 3.6 Weapon System, including the SM-3 Block
IA missile, was certified for tactical deployment by the U.S.
Navy and MDA in September 2006. Aegis BMD 3.6 enhances the ballistic
missile defense capabilities of the current Aegis BMD fleet
and adds capability in other warfare areas - as demonstrated
in today's test. An earlier version of Aegis BMD was declared
operational in October 2004. Currently, seven Aegis-equipped
warships have the ability to engage ballistic missiles. Another
nine Aegis warships are equipped with Aegis BMD Long Range Search
&Track capability. Japan began installation of Aegis BMD
in its Kongo-class Aegis destroyers in 2007.
SM-3 Block IA provides increased capability to engage short-
to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The SM-3 Block IA
incorporates rocket motor upgrades and computer program modifications
to improve sensor performance, missile guidance and control,
and lower cost.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Navy are jointly
developing Aegis BMD as part of the US Ballistic Missile Defense
System (BMDS). Ultimately 15 Aegis destroyers and three Aegis
cruisers will be outfitted with the ability to engage short
to intermediate range ballistic missile threats and support
other BMDS engagements using the Aegis BMD Weapon System and
the SM-3. Japan has purchased Aegis BMD capability for their
Aegis destroyers and is a partner developing a larger, faster
variant of the SM-3.