Ballistic Missile Defense System Successfully Engages Five Targets Simultaneously
In the largest missile defense flight test ever, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) with members of all the services successfully conducted the largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted, resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.
The test, known as Flight Test-Integrated-01 (FTI-01), stressed the performance of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and Patriot weapon systems.
An integrated air and ballistic missile defense architecture used multiple sensors and missile defense systems to engage multiple targets at the same time.
All targets were successfully launched and initial indications are that the THAAD system successfully intercepted its first Medium Range Ballistic target in history, MDA said in a statement. Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor on THAAD.
As well, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) near simultaneously destroyed a Short-Range Ballistic Missile and a low flying cruise missile target over water. Raytheon [RTN] is the prime contractor on the Patriot program, and system integrator for the PAC-3 missile, while Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the PAC-3 missile segment upgrade for the weapons system.
MDA officials and Army soldiers from the 94th and 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC); Navy sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62); and airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center conducted the live-fire demonstration, at U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and surrounding areas in the western Pacific.
An Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile was airdropped over the broad ocean area north of Wake Island from an Air Force C-17 aircraft, staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT and a THAAD interceptor successfully intercepted the Medium-Range Ballistic Missile. THAAD was operated by soldiers from the 32nd AAMDC. Since 2006, the THAAD program has successfully completed 12 flight tests, with 10-for-10 intercepts.
Another short-range ballistic missile was launched from a mobile launch platform located in the broad ocean area northeast of Kwajalein Atoll. The Patriot system, manned by soldiers of the 94th AAMDC, detected, tracked and successfully intercepted the target with a PAC-3 interceptor.
The Fitzgerald successfully engaged a low flying cruise missile over water. The Aegis system also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a Short-Range Ballistic Missile. However, despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, there was no indication of an intercept of the SRBM. Raytheon produces the Standard Missile.
The MDA and the Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the Aegis system.
Right now there are a total of 30 Aegis BMD-equipped warships–26 in the U.S. Navy and four in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force–have the certified capability to engage ballistic missiles and perform long-range surveillance and tracking missions. The number of U.S. BMD ships is expected to increase to 32 by 2014.
THAAD and Aegis BMD are the only missile defense systems with the operational flexibility to intercept in both the endo- and exo-atmospheres to provide versatile capability to the Warfighter.
FTI-01 was a combined developmental and operational test. Soldiers, sailors, and airmen were provided a unique opportunity to refine operational doctrine and tactics.
Program officials continue to assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test, MDA said in a statement.
BMDS programs have completed 56 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 71 flight test attempts since 2001, MDA officials said in a statement.
THAAD and Aegis BMD are the only missile defense systems with the operational flexibility to intercept in both the endo- and exo-atmospheres to provide versatile capability to the warfighter.
Separately, as part of the Kwajalein Range Service (KRS) joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Bechtel, employees directed and controlled the radar, telemetry and optics systems on this test at the newly established Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site Operations Center in Huntsville, Ala.