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US ballistic missile defence test destroys 4 target missiles

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A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is being launched from the Meck Island to intercept a ballistic missile target during MDA's flight test on Oct. 24, 2012. An MDA photo

KWAJALEIN ATOLL (BNS): In a first-ever extensive missile defence test involving the US Army, Navy and Air Force, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has carried out a successful test launch of the country's ballistic missile defence systems by engaging five targets simultaneously.

The test - the largest and most complex missile defence flight test ever attempted - was conducted on October 24 in which an integrated air and ballistic missile defence architecture used multiple sensors and missile defence systems to engage multiple targets at the same time, the MDA announced on Oct. 25.

The five targets included one medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and two low-flying cruise missiles. Four of the target missiles were successfully tracked and destroyed.

While the Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted its first MRBM target, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system near simultaneously destroyed the short range ballistic missile and a low flying cruise missile target over water, the Missile Defense Agency said.

The other cruise missile target was destroyed by the Aegis ballistic missile defense system. The US Navy's guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, armed with the Aegis BMD, also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a short-range ballistic missile.

However, despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, there was no indication of an intercept of the SRBM, the MDA said.

The US Air Force also played a role in the test. The USAF's C-17 aircraft was used to airdrop the MRBM, which was an extended long range air launch target (E-LRALT) missile and destroyed by the THAAD.

"The live-fire demonstration, conducted at US Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Hickam AFB, and surrounding areas in the western Pacific, stressed the performance of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), THAAD, and Patriot weapon systems," the MDA said.

Programme officials continue to assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test, it added.

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