The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Sailors aboard the USS Carney (DDG-64), USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) and USS Barry (DDG-52) successfully completed a flight test today involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system.
At approximately 2:30 a.m. EST, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near-simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. Two Aegis BMD destroyers acquired and tracked the targets, while another destroyer participated in associated operations. Using this data, the Aegis BMD ships conducted simulated Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB guided missile engagements with the Distributed Weighted Engagement Scheme (DWES) capability enabled.
The DWES provides an automated engagement coordination scheme between multiple Aegis BMD ships that determines which ship is the preferred shooter, reducing duplication of BMD engagements and missile expenditures while ensuring BMD threat coverage. Several fire control, discrimination, and engagement functions were exercised. Since no SM-3 guided missiles were launched, the test did not include an attempted intercept.
This test was designated Flight Test Other 19 (FTX-19). This was the first flight test to assess the ability of the Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system to simulate engagements of a raid consisting of three short-range, separating ballistic missile targets. This was also the first time Aegis BMD 4.0 ships used the DWES capability with live targets.
According to Geoff Fein, Jane’s Defence Weekly reporter, in this scenario one ship took two shots and one ship took one. The USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) took two shots based on how DWES determined who had best shot. The system can be configured to automatically fire or have operator intervention. Both ships fired simulated Standard Missile-3s. A third ship, USS Barry (DDG-52), equipped with Aegis baseline 9, also took part in the test, but it did not participate in the co-ordinated tracking and engagement of the three ballistic missile targets.
USS Barry (DDG-52) was tracking the three targets and doing simulated engagements similar to what the other ships were doing, except that USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) were testing out DWES. USS Barry (DDG-52) gave an opportunity to use the latest Baseline 9 build and make sure Navy could do simultaneous engagements in the same raid-type scenario.
The difference between USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) equipped with Aegis Baseline 4 and USS Barry (DDG-52) equipped with Baseline 9 is that the baseline 4 ships have a combination of the older UYK military-based and commercial off-the-shelf computers and rely on the ballistic signal processor functionality.
USS Barry (DDG-52) just received Baseline 9, which has the latest software configuration that brings an integrated air and missile defence capability to the ship. Baseline 9 also has the multi-mission signal processor, which is capable of conducting both air and BMD missions simultaneously. Aegis Baseline 9 has DWES capability built in. Additionally two cruisers, USS Lake Erie (CG-70) and USS Shiloh (CG-67), have DWES functionality.
The MDA will use test results to improve and enhance the Ballistic Missile Defense System and support the advancement of Phase 2 of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe to provide protection of U.S. deployed forces and European allies and partners.