Tag Archives: SM-3 Block IB

Flight Test

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) completed a successful intercept flight test in cooperation with the U.S. Navy off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii. A Raytheon Company Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IB missile intercepted a ballistic missile target, marking the first time Japan has tested the sophisticated interceptor as announced by MDA.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Atago launched an SM-3 Block IB air-defense missile for the first time during the latest Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) flight test on September 12 (MDA photo)
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Atago launched an SM-3 Block IB air-defense missile for the first time during the latest Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) flight test on September 12 (MDA photo)

The target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, and the interceptor was launched from the Japanese ship JS Atago (DDG-177), verifying the newest ballistic missile defense engagement capability of the upgraded destroyer. The flight test mission is a significant milestone in missile defense cooperation between Japan and the U.S. Japan currently employs the SM-3 Block IA interceptor, but the IB variant’s improved two-color seeker and upgraded throttling divert and attitude control system enables engagements with a larger set of threats.

«The Standard Missile-3 family consistently demonstrates capability against sophisticated threats, both on land and at sea», said Doctor Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. «This test underlines the importance of allied ballistic missile defense interoperability and the powerful results we generate when we work together with our allies».

The SM-3 is produced at Raytheon’s Space Factory in Tucson, Arizona, and the company’s integration facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

First Intercept Test

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Operational Test Agency, in conjunction with U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. European Command, and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, successfully conducted the first intercept flight test today (December 9, Hawaii Standard Time) of a land-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system and SM-3 (Standard Missile) Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile, launched from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Kauai, Hawaii.

The deckhouse for the Aegis Ashore system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility
The deckhouse for the Aegis Ashore system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility

During the test, a target representing a medium-range ballistic missile was air-launched from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft over the broad ocean area southwest of Hawaii. An AN/TPY-2 radar in Forward Based Mode, located at PMRF, detected the target and relayed target track information to the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communication (C2BMC) system. The Aegis Weapon System at the Aegis Ashore site received track data from C2BMC and used its component AN/SPY-1 radar to acquire, track, and develop a fire control solution to engage the target. The Aegis Weapon System then launched the SM-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile from its Vertical Launch System. The SM-3’s kinetic warhead acquired the target reentry vehicle, diverted into its path, and destroyed the target using the kinetic force of a direct impact.

The primary purpose of the test, designated Flight Test Operational-02 Event 1a, was to assess the operational effectiveness of the Aegis Ashore capability as part of a larger BMDS architecture.  Aegis Ashore uses a nearly identical configuration of the Vertical Launch System, fire control system, and SPY-1 radar currently in use aboard Aegis BMD cruisers and destroyers deployed at sea around the world.

Vice Admiral James D. Syring, MDA Director, said, «Today’s test demonstrated that the same Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capability that has been fielded at sea and operational for years, will soon be operational ashore as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) Phase 2 capability in Romania. I am very proud of the tremendous effort by the entire government/industry team in executing this vitally important mission for our Nation and our allies».

This flight test demonstrates Aegis Ashore capability as an important component of Phase 2 of the EPAA, of which MDA plans to announce a technical capability declaration by the end of this month.

The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

 

BMD co-ordination

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.

Distributed Weighted Engagement Scheme helped ships avoid launching multiple missiles to counter threats
Distributed Weighted Engagement Scheme helped ships avoid launching multiple missiles to counter threats

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.

Three short-range ballistic missile targets are launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, in support of FTX-19
Three short-range ballistic missile targets are launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, in support of FTX-19

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.