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Aegis BMD system successfully intercepts ballistic missile target

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The US Navy cruiser USS Lake Erie fires an SM-3 Block 1B interceptor during a May 16 test in mid-Pacific. The SM-3 intercepted its target missile for the third time in a row, the Pentagon said. Photo: MDA.

KAUAI, HAWAII (BNS): Lockheed Martin's second-generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system achieved its fourth intercept since May 2012.

The system successfully launched and guided a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missile to engage a sophisticated, separating short-range ballistic missile target, according to the company news release.

During the Missile Defence Agency test, US Navy sailors aboard USS Lake Erie (CG-70) used the Aegis BMD Weapon System in an operational test environment to discriminate a ballistic missile target among multiple separating objects designed to present a realistic threat scenario.

The target, launched from the Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, traveled approximately the distance from Boston to Washington, D.C.

"With every flight test, we've witnessed the ability of the sailors, the ship and the system to engage increasingly more sophisticated ballistic missile threats," Nick Bucci, director of BMD development programmes for Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training, was quoted as saying in the release.

The second-generation Aegis BMD system was recently upgraded with faster, more powerful commercial-off-the-shelf signal processing equipment and updates to its weapon system computer programmes.

The test marks an important milestone for the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) to missile defence in Europe, demonstrating PAA Phase 2 SM-3 Block IB capabilities planned for deployment in 2015 at a land-based Aegis Ashore site in Romania and aboard Navy ships to protect US interests on the continent, the release added.

Aegis BMD's upgraded signal processor enables the Navy to defeat more sophisticated ballistic missile threats as a result of improved target identification capabilities. It includes an open architecture BMD computing suite that improves overall system capabilities and enables future insertion of more off-the-shelf products, third-party components and turn-key solutions.

The MDA and the Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the United States' Ballistic Missile Defence System. Currently, a total of 27 US Aegis BMD-equipped warships have the certified capability to engage ballistic missiles and perform long-range surveillance and tracking missions. The number of installed US BMD ships is expected to increase to 32 by 2014.

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