Pearl Harbor destroyer downs simulated ballistic missile off Kauai
  • Tuesday, January 15, 2019
  • 80°

Hawaii News| Top News

Pearl Harbor destroyer downs simulated ballistic missile off Kauai

  • A missile fired from the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS John Finn intercepted a target missile Friday off the west coast of Hawaii.
    (Video by Missile Defense Agency)

    A target missile launches today from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii, during a medium-range ballistic missile target test.


The Missile Defense Agency scored a hit — and a bit of renewed confidence — after an interceptor missile fired from the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS John Finn impacted a medium-range ballistic missile target off the west coast of Kauai on Friday.

Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IIA guided missile is being developed cooperatively by the United States and Japan and operates as part of the Aegis mainly ship-based ballistic missile defense system.

The missile’s improved range over the SM-3 Block IB has the United States eyeing it for the future naval defense of Hawaii and for Japan’s defense against North Korean or Chinese missiles. It is expected to be deployed to Romania and Poland as well to defend against Iranian threats.

Friday’s successful test follows a Jan. 31 failure off Kauai when an SM-3 Block IIA did not intercept an air-dropped intermediate-range target missile.

The still-in-development SM-3 Block IIA costs $36 million per missile, while the target missile cost about $40 million. The entire test cost a total of $130 million, the Missile Defense Agency previously said.

The Jan. 31 test was the first time an SM-3 IIA missile was launched from land using the Aegis Ashore test complex on Kauai. Everything up to and including the launch worked. A failure review board is ongoing, the agency said on its website.

Friday’s test was against a medium-range ballistic missile, which is defined as traveling between 620 and 1,860 miles. An intermediate-range ballistic missile — the type tested Jan. 31 — flies between 1,860 and 3,418 miles.

Guam is about 2,100 miles from North Korea, while Hawaii is about 4,660 miles from the nuclear-armed nation.

The target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. The USS John Finn detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system.

Upon acquiring and tracking the target, the ship launched the SM-3 Block IIA missile, which intercepted the target, the Missile Defense Agency said.

“This was a superb accomplishment and key milestone for the SM-3 Block IIA return to flight,” Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a news release. “My congratulations to the entire team, including our sailors, industry partners and allies who helped achieve this milestone.”

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