The Pentagon’s sea-based ballistic missile defense system known as Aegis successfully took out a short range ballistic missile and two low flying cruise missiles during a test on Nov. 6 conducted simultaneously over the Pacific Ocean, making it the first occasion that Aegis has taken out a ballistic threat and air-theater threat at the same time.
The Missile Defense Agency carried out the test with U.S. Pacific Command and the Navy on board the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. A short-range ballistic missile and the two cruise missiles were launched from Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The John Paul Jones developed a fire control solution and launched a Standard Missile-3 Block 1B interceptor at the ballistic missile.
“The SM-3 missile maneuvered to a point in space and released its kinetic warhead,” the Missile Defense Agency said. “The kinetic warhead acquired the target’s reentry vehicle, diverted into its path, and destroyed the target with the sheer energy and force of direct impact.”
The ship also fired two SM-2 Block IIIA interceptors at the cruise missile, both of them successfully hitting the targets, the MDA said.
The ship used the AN/SPY-1 radar in the Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built Aegis system to guide the Raytheon [RTN]-built Standard Missiles to the target.
The test was critical to proving that Aegis can simultaneous counter ballistic threats while defending the ship against cruise missiles. The BMD capability had so far only been fielded separately from the air-theater capability.
The key technology enabling capability was the addition of the Multi-Mission Signals Processor, giving Aegis the ability to carry out both missions as part of Aegis modernization called Baseline 9.
“These successful engagements demonstrated the extraordinary capabilities of Aegis BMD and Baseline 9…,” said Paul Klammer, the director of BMD programs at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business unit.
Raytheon was also pleased with the outcome.
“This test showcases the U.S.’s ability to defend against numerous ballistic and cruise missile threats in ‘raid’ scenarios,” Taylor W. Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems, said. “No other nation in the world has the capability to do what the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency demonstrated.”