was the first time that an SM-3 was fired from a destroyer.
Previous tests involved missiles launched from Aegis
cruisers. The exercise was the first to involve Aegis ships
from three nations, operating together to test the performance
of their combat systems against a variety of naval threats.
It was the third intercept of a medium-range target with a separating
re-entry warhead and the ninth successful intercept for the
Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program. The test represents
the Aegis BMD system's ninth successful ballistic missile intercept
in 11 attempts.
USS Decatur (DDG 73) is an Aegis BMD destroyer equipped with
the latest U.S. Navy certified version of the Aegis BMD Weapon
System (Aegis BMD 3.6). During the tests USS Decatur also verified
other operating modes, including self-defense mode, where the
Aegis BMD 3.6's performance in detecting, tracking and targeting
a high altitude, anti-radiation missile target.
In addition to USS Decatur, the Aegis BMD Cruiser USS Port
Royal (CG 73) and the Spanish Navy Aegis-equipped frigate Mendez
Nunez (F-104) participated in the test as a training event to
assess the future capabilities of the F-100 Class. USS Port
Royal used its SPY-1B radar, augmented by a prototype Aegis
BMD Signal Processor (BSP) to detect and track the separating
warhead in real time, and to differentiate (discriminate) the
simulated warhead from the rest of the missile. The test validated
the BSP's advanced discrimination capability against complex
threats. The system is scheduled for installation and deployment
as part of the next configuration of Aegis BMD capability beginning
in 2010. USS Port Royal also exchanged tracking data with
a ground- based Terminal High
Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system positioned ashore. Minor
modification made to the Aegis Weapon System installed on the
Mendez Nunez enabled the vessel to detected and track the ballistic
missile target during the test.
The 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,
as well as lower cost. It also includes producibility and maintainability
features required to qualify the missile as a tactical fleet
asset. Accroding to Frank Wyatt, Raytheon's vice president of
Naval Weapon Systems the program has already delivered more
than 23 operational SM-3 rounds to the navy. "We are ramping
up our facilities and suppliers to accelerate deliveries of
this urgently needed capability to the fleet". said Wyatt.