A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer successfully conducted its first Aegis missile defense intercept test with the Raytheon [RTN] Standard Missile-3 Block IB off the coast of Hawaii on Sep. 11.

The test, called Japan Flight Test Mission-05 (JTFM-05), aimed to demonstrate a successful engagement of a target missile from the Japanese destroyer JS Atago (DDG-177) using the Aegis ballistic missile defense capability.

This was the first Japanese test using the SM-3 IB and it occurred with the participation of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force guided-missile destroyer JS Atago (DDG-177) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after participating in the 2010 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class N. Brett Morton)

The test occurred on the evening in Hawaii when a simple separating ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Barking Sands, Kauai. MDA said crew members on the Atago, off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, detected and tracked the target, the Aegis system developed a fire control solution, then a Standard Missiles-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade (SM-3 IB TU) model missile was launched to the target. The SM-3 then intercepted the target over the Pacific Ocean.

Japan currently fields the SM-3 Block IA on its Kongo-class and Atago-class Japanese destroyers, but has not used the Block IB’s enhancements, which include an improved two-color seeker as well as an upgraded throttling divert and attitude control system meant to help it target a wider set of missile threats.

The Atago destroyers are improved models of the Kongo-class.

The MDA highlighted the test is a “significant milestone” in U.S.-Japanese missile defense cooperation.

“This success provides confidence in the future capability for Japan to defeat the developing threats in the region. My congratulations to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, our MDA team, and our industry partners.  We are committed to assisting the Government of Japan in upgrading its national missile defense capability against emerging threats,” MDA director Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in a statement.

“I believe the success of this flight test mission (JFTM-05) further strengthened the Japanese BMD system. We, the JMSDF and U.S. Navy, will enhance our relationship and cooperation to continuously promote our ballistic missile defense,” Rear Adm. Akira Saito, senior director general for the operations and plans department at the JMSDF, added.

The SM-3 IB is currently fielded at the first Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu, Romania as well as Aegis-equipped U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers. It is planned to be used in the second Aegis Ashore site being built in Poland.

In July, Raytheon won a $467 million contract to produce and deliver 44 SM-3 IBs, part of a FY ’15 through FY ’18 SM-3 production order.

In 2017 Japan disclosed it plans to increase missile defenses with two Aegis Ashore sites similar to the site in Romania.