A complex missile defense flight test conducted Tuesday in the Western Pacific succeeded in its objective of intercepting of two medium-range ballistic missile targets, Defense Department officials said.
Planned more than a year ago, the flight test was not in any way connected to events in the Middle East, officials said in a news release issued by the Pentagon.
The test was conducted near the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site — near the southernmost point in the Marshall Islands, about 2,100 nautical miles southwest of Oahu’s south shore — and surrounding areas in the western Pacific. Officials said the test was designed to gauge how well the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon systems function in a layered defense architecture, and whether the weapon systems could defeat a raid of two near-simultaneous ballistic missile targets.
The two medium-range ballistic missile targets were launched on realistic trajectories toward a defended area near Kwajalein, officials said. Along with overhead space assets providing launch alerts, an Army-Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control radar in forward-based mode detected the targets and relayed track information to the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications system.
The USS Decatur with its Aegis Weapon System detected and tracked the first target with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The Aegis ballistic missile defense weapon system developed a fire control solution, launched a Standard Missile-3 Block IA missile, and successfully intercepted the target.
In a demonstration of Ballistic Missile Defense System layered defense capabilities, a second AN/TPY-2 radar in terminal mode located with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon system (THAAD) acquired and tracked the target missiles. THAAD developed a fire control solution, launched a THAAD interceptor missile, and successfully intercepted the second medium-range ballistic missile target, officials said.
THAAD was operated by soldiers from the Alpha Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment. As a planned demonstration of THAAD’s layered defense capabilities, a second THAAD interceptor was launched at the target destroyed by Aegis as a contingency in the event that the SM-3 did not achieve an intercept.
Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, Pentagon officials said. Missile Defense Agency officials will assess and evaluate system performance, they added.
The flight test’s team included: the Missile Defense Agency, Ballistic Missile Defense System Operational Test Agency, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and U.S. Pacific Command, in conjunction with soldiers from the Army’s Alpha Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, sailors aboard the Navy’s guided missile destroyer USS Decatur, and Air Force airmen from the 613th Air and Operations Center.
U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have completed 62 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 78 flight test attempts since 2001, officials said.