The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on Oct. 31 successfully performed three-of-four intercepts during a complex operational flight test of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), according to an agency statement.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor missile successfully intercepted a short-range air launch target (SRALT). The THAAD AN/TPY-2 radar in terminal mode detected the target and relayed track information to the THAAD fire control and communications (TFCC). It developed a fire control solution and provided track information for use by other defending BMDS assets. The THAAD weapon system developed a fire control solution, launched a THAAD interceptor missile and intercepted the target.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery deploys a missile. Photo: Lockheed Martin.A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery deploys a missile. Photo: Lockheed Martin.

An anomaly early in the flight of a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile prevented a midcourse intercept. As a demonstration of layered defense capabilities, both Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and THAAD launched interceptors to engage an extended Medium Range Ballistic Missile (eMRBM). The USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) successfully launched a SM-3 Block IB, but the anomaly prevented an intercept.

Though the SM-3 Block IB failed, the THAAD interceptor, in its terminal defense role, acquired and successfully intercepted the eMRBM target. MDA spokesman Richard Lehner said Nov. 2 the SM-3 was the primary interceptor and THAAD, the secondary interceptor, was deployed after the SM-3 intercept failed as a demonstration of a layered missile defense architecture.

Aegis BMD also successfully engaged a BQM-74E air-breathing target with a SM-2 Block IIIA guided missile. A failure review is currently underway to investigate the SM-3 anomaly, MDA said.

The test, designated Flight Test Operational-02 Event 2a, was conducted in the vicinity of Wake Island and the surrounding areas of the western Pacific Ocean. The test stressed the ability of Aegis BMD and THAAD weapon systems to negate two ballistic missile threats while Aegis BMD simultaneously conducted an anti-air warfare operation.