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Missile launched from Kauai destroys target over the Pacific

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    A Standard Missile Р3 (SM-3) Block 1A interceptor, similar to the missile launched from Kauai Wednesday, is launched from the USS Lake Erie during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test in the mid-Pacific Ocean on Feb. 13, 2013.


    An artist’s rendition shows the Aegis Ashore deckhouse.

A missile fired from a new Aegis Ashore facility on Kauai successfully intercepted and destroyed a target representing a medium-range ballistic missile Wednesday, the Missile Defense Agency said in a news release.

It’s the first intercept test of a missile fired from the new $278 million Aegis Ashore system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on Kauai.

A missile launched from the facility in May of last year created strange lights in the sky created by condensed water vapor trails. A missile target was not launched in last year’s test flight.

There were no immediate reports of lights in the sky from Wednesday’s test and the missile agency did not announce the time that the test took place.

In Wednesday’s test, radar system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility detected and tracked a target missile launched from a U.S. Air Force C-17 over the ocean southwest of Kauai. The Aegis Weapon System used the tracking information to launch an SM-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile from Kauai to intercept and destroy the target, the Missile Defense Agency said in a news release.

The Aegis Ashore is a land-based missile defense system that is nearly identical to the Aegis systems based on U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers.

The purpose of Wednesday’s test, designated Flight Test Operational-02 Event 1a, was to assess the operational effectiveness of the Aegis Ashore facility on Kauai.

The complex on Kauai includes a Mark 41 launcher, a four-story building with a SPY-1 radar and three 125-foot test towers.

The 21-foot-6-inch SM-3 missiles, which cost about $9 million to $10 million apiece for Block IA versions, use a kinetic warhead that smashes into a ballistic missile, destroying it.

The Aegis Ashore system is being installed in Romania and may be deployed in Poland.

“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 Phase 2 capability in Romania,” said Vice Admiral James D. Syring, the missile agency director.

The Missile Defense Agency did not immediately release photos or videos from Wednesday’s launch.

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