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Navy Simultaneously Destroys Ballistic Missile, Cruise Missile Targets

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By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

At approximately 5:40 PM Eastern time yesterday, Lieutenant General Henry “Trey” Obering, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director, announced the successful completion of the latest Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense “hit to kill” intercept flight test.

Conducted jointly with the U.S. Navy, the test involved the simultaneous engagements of a ballistic missile target and cruise missile target.Both targets were destroyed.

The combat team of the ship had just seconds to find, identify, make an evaluation and engage these two targets.

The test represents the Aegis system’s eighth successful ballistic missile intercept in 10 attempts, and the first intercept while simultaneously engaging an air threat.

In addition to its record of intercepts, Aegis BMD has successfully supported more than 15 ballistic missile defense system tracking tests since June 2004.

The ship is operating on the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaiian waters. PMRF is a completely instrumented range that provides detailed analysis of missile events.

The mission was completed by the Aegis BMD cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), using the Aegis BMD’s shipboard weapon system engineered and built by Lockheed Martin; the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA, against the ballistic missile target; and the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA, against the surrogate hostile air target. The Standard Missiles are engineered and built by Raytheon.

At approximately 11:31 a.m. Hawaii Time (5:31 p.m. EDT), a short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. At the same time, a target with characteristics similar to a hostile high performance cruise missile was launched from a Navy aircraft.

USS Lake Erie’s Aegis 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, and two minutes later 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, once again successfully demonstrating “hit to kill” technology, which means that the target missile was destroyed when the interceptor missile collided directly with the target.

This marks the first time that an AEGIS BMD equipped ship has simultaneously intercepted more than one attack using the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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