The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the Japan Ministry of Defense, and U.S. Navy Sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a flight test Feb. 3 (Hawaii Standard Time), resulting in the first intercept of a ballistic missile target using the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3)
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time, Feb. 3 (3:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Feb. 4) a medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii.
(See from multiple views, courtesy of defenseupdate and YouTube)
The SM-3 Block IIA is being developed cooperatively by the United States and Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor operates as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and can be launched from Aegis-equipped ships or Aegis Ashore sites.
John Paul Jones detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1D(V) radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system.
Upon acquiring and tracking the target, the ship launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which intercepted the target.
“Today’s test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring.
“The missile, developed jointly by a Japanese and U.S. government and industry team, is vitally important to both our nations and will ultimately improve our ability to defend against increasing ballistic missile threats around the world.”
Based on preliminary data the test met its primary objective. Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
The flight test, designated SM-3 Block IIA Cooperative Development (SCD) Project Flight Test, Standard Missile (SFTM)-01, was the third flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile, and the first intercept test.
This test also marks the first time an SM-3IIA was launched from an Aegis ship and the first intercept engagement using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) weapon system.
Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense is the naval component of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System. The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.
The Missile Defense Agency’s mission is to develop and deploy a layered Ballistic Missile Defense System to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies and friends from ballistic missile attacks of all ranges in all phases of flight.
“The SM-3 Block IIA program continues to reflect MDA’s commitment to maturing this regional ballistic missile defense capability for the defense of our nation, its deployed forces and our allies abroad,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president.
“This test success keeps the program on track for deployment at sea and ashore in the 2018 timeframe, building on Raytheon’s unequalled fifteen-year history of exo-atmospheric intercepts.”
The test’s primary objective was a successful intercept.
The mission was also designed to evaluate key missile system performance, including the kinetic warhead, divert and attitude control system functionality, nosecone performance, steering control section function, booster performance and separation and the second and third stage rocket motor performance and separation.
The interceptor’s kinetic warhead has been enhanced to best address advanced and emerging threats, with improvements to the search, discrimination, acquisition and tracking functions.
The kinetic warhead, along with larger rocket motors, allows SM-3 Block IIA to engage more sophisticated threats and protect larger regions from short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats, providing greater operational flexibility.
The SM-3 Block IIA was flown twice before in successful test demonstrations, both without target intercepts, in order to fully evaluate the missile in flight and prepare for the first intercept test.
Future flight tests will continue to evaluate system performance, en-route to a 2018 deployment in support of the European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase 3.
(See More. May 21, 2014 -The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy launch an SM-3® Block IB guided missile from the Aegis Ashore Weapon System in Kauai, Hawaii. Courtesy of Raytheon and YouTube)
Standard Missile-3 – World’s only ballistic missile killer deployable on land or at sea.
The SM-3® interceptor is a defensive weapon used by the U.S. Navy to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.
This “hit-to-kill” interceptor uses a “kill vehicle” to collide with targets in space, a capability that’s been likened to hitting a bullet with a bullet.
The massive collision of the kill vehicle hitting its target obliterates the threat completely; explosives are not necessary. The resulting impact is the equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph.
Land-based SM-3 Interceptor
The SM-3 interceptor is a critical piece of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe. Currently, U.S. Navy ships carrying SM-3 interceptors deployed off Europe’s coast provide the continent’s only “upper tier” defense from the growing threat of ballistic missiles.
Earlier this year, the first land-based interceptors site became operational in Romania, further enhancing Europe’s protection.
The flexibility of the SM-3 interceptor to be both land- and sea-based offers countries that do not have ballistic missile defense-enabled navies to take advantage of the incredible capacity to protect large areas of land.
This is often referred to as regional defense. The SM-3 missile can cover larger areas with fewer installations, when compared to other “lower tier” missile defense solutions.
Whether on land or at sea, the SM-3 interceptor continues to excel in testing. In 2014, the Block IB variant was successfully launched for the first time from an Aegis Ashore testing site in Hawaii.
Later in the year, the missile destroyed a short-range ballistic missile target during a highly complex integrated air and missile defense exercise in the Pacific Ocean.
The program has more than 25 successful space intercepts, and more than 240 interceptors have been delivered to U.S. and Japanese navies.
SM-3 Block IB Interceptor
The SM-3 Block IB interceptor has an enhanced two-color infrared seeker and upgraded steering and propulsion capability that uses short bursts of precision propulsion to direct the missile toward incoming targets. It became operational in 2014, deploying for the first time on U.S. Navy ships worldwide.
SM-3 Block IIA Interceptor
The next-generation SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is being developed in cooperation with Japan and will be deployable on land as well as at sea.
It has two distinct new features: larger rocket motors that will allow it to defend broader areas from ballistic missile threats and a larger kinetic warhead.
The Block IIA variant is the centerpiece of the European missile defense system. The program is on track for 2018 deployment at sea and on land in Poland.
Evolution of the SM-3® interceptor
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