An advanced version of the U.S. Standard Missile 3 for the first time eliminated a dummy missile in an intercept trial late Wednesday close to Hawaii, Reuters reported (see GSN, Sept. 6, 2011).
The missile target was fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai at 8:18 p.m. local time. The cruiser USS Lake Erie identified and monitored the missile and launched the SM-3 Block 1B interceptor, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said. The interceptor released a warhead that collided with the missile.
"Initial indications are that all components performed as designed," according to an agency press release.
A September intercept attempt using the SM-3 Block 1B ended unsuccessfully.
The system produced by defense contractor Raytheon is to be installed on warships carrying Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense technology and in Romania around 2015 as part of the Obama administration's developing European missile shield.
The Missile Defense Agency plans to conduct another two trials of the SM-3 Block 1B in 2012, according to spokesman Richard Lehner. Determinations on manufacturing "will be made based upon system performance in any or all of the tests," he said in an e-mail message to Reuters.
Lehner would not address whether decoys or other methods of camouflaging the actual missile were incorporated into the trial.
"We don't divulge presence of countermeasures for any missile defense tests," he stated.
Such countermeasures are necessary if an interceptor is to be proven capable of eliminating a missile in an actual attack situation, according to skeptics (Jim Wolf, Reuters/Yahoo!News, May 10).
An advanced version of the U.S. Standard Missile 3 for the first time eliminated a dummy missile in an intercept trial late Wednesday close to Hawaii, Reuters reported.