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Aero India 2023

US Navy tests advanced missile interceptor for 2nd time

The Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IB interceptor is launched from the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during the Missile Defense Agency test in the mid-Pacific. The SM-3 Block IB successfully intercepted a separating ballistic missile target that had been launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. A US MDA photo

KAUAI, HAWAII (BNS): In the second successful missile defence test in more than a month, the US Navy has tested an advanced variant of a sea-based missile interceptor to shoot down a medium-range ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean.

The test, jointly conducted by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the US Navy on Wednesday, involved the Raytheon-made Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IB missile interceptor which tracked and destroyed the medium-range target missile.

The target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, located on Kauai, Hawaii at 0915 GMT and it flew on a northwesterly trajectory towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean.

Following the target launch, the Navy's Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar.

The warship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System, developed a fire control solution and launched the SM-3 Block IB missile.

The USS Lake Erie continued to track the target and sent trajectory information to the SM-3 Block IB missile in-flight.

The SM-3 manoeuvered to a point in space, as designated by the fire control solution, and released its kinetic warhead. The kinetic warhead acquired the target, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the threat in a 'hit-to-kill' intercept.

"Initial indications are that all components performed as designed resulting in a very accurate intercept," the Missile Defense Agency said.

Wednesday's test was the second consecutive successful live fire intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB interceptor and the second-generation Aegis BMD 4.0.1 weapon system.

The first successful test of the weapon system was conducted on May 10, 2012.

"Today's intercept is a critical accomplishment for the second phase of the President's European Phased Adaptive Approach consisting of the SM-3 Block IB interceptor employed in an Aegis Ashore system in Romania in 2015," the MDA said.

The Standard Missile 3 is a ship-based missile system used by the US Navy to intercept hostile missiles, aircraft and ships as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The SM-3 Block 1B is an upgraded variant of the SM-3 1A interceptor presently deployed on US Navy warships.

The Aegis BMD is the sea-based midcourse component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System and is designed to intercept and destroy short to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.

The latest test was the 23 successful intercept in 28 flight test firings for the Aegis BMD programme. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programmes, it was the 54th successful hit-to-kill intercept in 68 flight tests since 2001, the MDA said.

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