The Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) over the weekend fired four Standard Missile (SM)-6 Dual II missiles against a raid of two short-range ballistic missile targets, successfully intercepting at least one.

MDA said in a statement that this test on July 24, Flight Test Missile (FTM)-33, was “the most complex mission executed” by the agency. The objective was to intercept a raid of two short-range ballistic missile targets with two SM-6 Dual II interceptor salvos consisting of four total missiles.

The test occurred in the “broad ocean area northwest of Hawaii.”

MDA said that based on initial observations one target was successfully intercepted but “at this time, we cannot confirm the second target was destroyed.”

The SM-6 interceptors were fired off the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114) in the third flight test of an Aegis ballistic missile defense-equipped ship using the SM-6 Dual II missiles.

The SM-6 Dual II variant was designed for use in the terminal phase of a short-to-medium-range ballistic missile trajectory. 

Missile builder Raytheon Technologies [RTX] calls the SM-6 three missiles in one because it can perform anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense and anti-surface warfare missions.

FTM-44 was originally scheduled to occur in December 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic with restrictions in personnel and equipment movement.

MDA said program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based on data obtained during the test.

The MDA’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request documents said by the end of FY ‘22 there will be 48 total ballistic missile defense system capable ships.

FTM-33 follows the FTM-44 test in late 2020 when the Navy and MDA intercepted an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)-type target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile over the Pacific Ocean (Defense Daily, Nov. 17, 2020).

That test was also delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions and originally scheduled for May 2020.

Last year, MDA said most of its flight tests planned for FY 2020 and 2021 were affected by pandemic restrictions, starting with FTM-44 (Defense Daily, April 24).