Lockheed Martin [LMT] said it successfully performed on Jan. 15 an Aegis Ashore missile defense exercise called “flight test tracking exercise No. 18,” which a company official said included multiple unitary short range ballistic missiles and multiple ships at sea.
Lockheed Martin Director of Ballistic Missile Defense Development Programs Nick Bucci said the Aegis Ashore system tracked multiple unitary short-range ballistic missiles and performed simulated engagements against all targets during the exercise. In addition to the two ships at sea, the event also featured hardware in the loop test facilities at Wallops Island, Va., and the Aegis Ashore deckhouse (destined for Romania) in Moorestown, N.J. Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicles (ARAV-As) were also used as short range ballistic missile targets. The USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) engaged these targets with simulated SM-3 Block 1B missiles. Based on preliminary data analysis all objectives of the test were achieved, Bucci said.
Bucci said the company continues to perform development of second and third generation capabilities to Aegis Ashore, the land-based component of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. Bucci also said as the company completes its Aegis Ashore testing, it will disassemble that equipment, ship it to Romania and prepare for final selloff in 2015.
Bucci and other Lockheed Martin executives previewed the company’s BMD efforts for 2014 in a teleconference with reporters.
Bucci said Lockheed Martin’s capabilities upgrades program for Aegis Ashore is on board to get out to USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) later this year for flight testing and that its third generation system is completing its design phase. During flight testing, Bucci said Lockheed Martin will perform what it calls a controlled vehicle test, where it essentially launches the SM-3 Block 1B missile at a ballistic missile range facility and controls the missile through flight.
Lockheed Martin Vice President of Air and Missile Defense Business Development Orville Prins said the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) was selected for continued discussion with the Polish defense ministry as a candidate for the Polish Shield program, in which Poland intends to build its own missile defense system. Prins said Lockheed Martin has been working on this on a partnership basis with Polish industry, which he said is a critical requirement, and that he believes MEADS’ capabilities are in “perfect alignment” with Polish requirements.
MEADS capabilities including a modern, mobile, 360 degree air and missile defense system that is NATO interoperable and can defeat short and advanced medium range ballistic missiles makes it the right choice, Prins said. Lockheed Martin plans to conduct MEADS systems testing throughout 2014 to further demonstrate and validate the capabilities and maturity, according to Prins.
Another MEADS area of focus for Lockheed Martin will be transitioning to a European follow-on program. Prins said MEADS partners Germany and Italy remain committed to the program, and although they are going through final analysis, Lockheed Martin believes it will be responding to proposal requests by those two nations by the end of 2014 to finish the remaining development and move into production. Prins said Lockheed Martin will also spend 2014 looking for additional partnership and capabilities. A final MEADS area of focus for the upcoming year will be harvesting by the United States. Prins said as the United States continues to analyze the results of the BMD program, it has set up a team to examine those results. An interim report, Prins said, has been filed by the U.S. harvesting team and a final report is due in March.
Lockheed Martin expects additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries to be funded for up to, potentially, nine batteries, Prins said. The company is under contract to produce and deliver batteries three, four and five to the Army. The U.S.’ program consists of six batteries, he said. THAAD provides the BMD system with a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.
Lockheed Martin is one of three companies underway in concept development in what is intended to be a replacement next-generation kill vehicle for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GBMD) program, according to Doug Graham, Lockheed Martin vice president of advanced programs for strategic and missile defense systems. Graham said the current focus of the program is on unitary placement for the exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) with a goal of fielding it as quickly as possible.
Current guidance from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Graham said, talks about fielding this kill vehicle as early as 2018 and the company expects to get updated guidance from MDA on their plans to proceed through fielding this capability later this year. The GBMD portion of the BMD system provides the capability to engage and destroy limited intermediary- and long-range ballistic missile threats in space.
Lockheed Martin continues to upgrade capabilities on the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) program of BMDS, according to John Osborne, company director of missile defense systems. Osborne said Lockheed Martin is on track with both cost schedule and content for what it calls its spiral A2 release, which is for both hardware and software. It also keeps pace with all the emerging capabilities of the BMDS. Osborne said the company will complete its last software spiral in the next month before it enters the “very long and protracted” test period before it is ultimately fielded and deployed.