By Ann Roosevelt

Japan and the U.S. Missile Defense agency (MDA) yesterday announced the successful intercept flight test of an Aegis Ballistic Missile (BMD) in cooperation with the U.S. Navy off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

Japan Flight Test Mission 3 (JFTM-3) verified the newest engagement capability of the Japan Aegis BMD configuration of the recently upgraded Japanese destroyer JS Myoko (DDG-175).

The Aegis BMD system integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, the Raytheon [RTN] Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), and the Aegis command and control system.

In 2008, Lockheed Martin [LMT], the Aegis weapon system prime contractor, received a $40.4 million contract change to provide BMD capability to the JS Myoko (Defense Daily, Jan. 15, 2008).

During the test, a separating, medium range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii.

The JS Myoko crew detected and tracked the target.

The Aegis weapon system developed a fire control solution and launched a SM-3 Block 1A interceptor missile. About three minutes later, the SM-3 successfully intercepted the target approximately 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean, MDA said.

Pearl Harbor-based U.S. Navy ships USS Lake Erie (CG-70) and USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) also participated in the tests, MDA said.

Lisa Callahan, vice president for Maritime BMD programs at Lockheed Martin, said there were three different BMD baselines at sea on three different ships. The JS Myoko had the Japanese BMD baseline. The USS Paul Hamilton, which has the deployed 3.6.1, was participating mainly as a crew training exercise and also detected, tracked and conducted a simulated engagement of the medium range target. The USS Lake Erie has the next generation development baseline, BMD 4.0.1 "She was out there with our new ballistic missile signal processor on her and she also detected tracked and conducted a simulated engagement of the SM-3 target," she said in a roundtable. "I think this is the first time we’ve had all of those baselines out at sea at the same time."

Next week, the new BMD 4.0.1 baseline will complete its tests under Flight Test Exercise 06, with Lake Erie and live targets, Callahan said. Since last summer, the new baseline has been gradually expanding its capability against targets, from unitary through complex, and Lake Erie has been able to detect, discriminate and track objects and perform simulated engagements. The next test will have an even more complex target, she said. That baseline will go to certification in 2011.

Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin received a $1 billion development contract to continue the Aegis BMD program (Defense Daily, Oct. 27).

"This contract will take our 4.0.1 baseline through certification and deployment, and will also take that 4.0.1 capability and merge it into the Aegis modernization program," Callahan said. "We’ll be able to expand dramatically the BMD capability for the U.S. Navy fleet. The program will also continue our spiral development process of incrementally increasing the BMD capability that’s on the Aegis ships with our future generation baseline the BMD 5.1, which will marry up with the Block 2A missile at that point."

Before heading to Japan, JS Myoko will be loaded with additional SM-3 Block IA missiles. The ship will arrive in Japan ready to provide additional BMD capability against the increasing BMD threat in the region.

In 2007, the JS Kongo conducted Japan’s first successful BMD intercept test with a SM-3 missile (Defense Daily, Dec. 17, 2007).

Japan currently has three certified BMD-capable ships, with a fourth being fitted with the Aegis capability aiming toward a first test next fall.

The United States has 19 BMD ships that can perform long-range surveillance and tracking and engaging ballistic missiles. Another two U.S. East Coast-based Aegis-equipped ships are being modified for BMD.

SM-3 prime contractor Raytheon provides the infrared seeker and integrates the kinetic warhead components. Boeing [BA] builds and integrates the kinetic warhead guidance assembly, and integrates and tests the avionics, guidance-and-control software and ejection subsystem. Ongoing spiral development will lead to improved performance and lower cost on a path to meet future threats with Block IB and Block IIA missiles.

Aerojet‘s [GY] MK 72 booster and MK 104 dual-thrust rocket motor provided the first- and second-stage propulsion.

Under contract to MDA and the Japanese Ministry of Defense, Raytheon and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are developing the next-generation SM-3 Block IIA missile. The new missile will have larger second- and third-stage rocket motors and a larger kinetic warhead for a larger area of defense against more sophisticated threats. Aerojet is developing the Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control Systems (TDACS) for SM-3 Blocks IB and IIA, the planned missile variant upgrades to the current SM-3 Block IA.