U.S. Navy Missile Defense Test Shoots One-For-Two

The U.S. Navy destroyed one mock enemy ballistic missile and missed another in an interceptor test on Saturday (see GSN, June 6).

In the exercise, dubbed “Fleet Exercise Pacific Blitz,” two Aegis-equipped destroyers each fired a Standard Missile 3 interceptor targeting a separate missile, according to a Navy press release.

The USS Paul Hamilton targeted one of the targets fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, resulting in a successful interception. The USS Hopper successfully detected, monitored and fired at the second target, but the interceptor missed the fake weapon.

Data collected from the exercise is expected to help improve the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, which has conducted 16 successful interceptions out of 19 attempts.

“The successful engagement of ballistic missile targets from ships at sea is extraordinary,” Vice Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the San Diego-based Third Fleet, said in a statement. “Pacific Blitz highlights the successful transition from developmental test flights to operational fleet execution and demonstrates the viability of the Maritime BMD Concept of Operations” (U.S. Navy release, Nov. 1).

Locklear said the exercise marked the first SM-3 intercept test overseen by the Navy and not the Missile Defense Agency, the Associated Press reported (Associated Press I/Google News, Nov. 2).

Meanwhile, the Japanese destroyer JDS Chokai is set to target a separating ballistic missile off of Hawaii this month, AP reported.

The JDS Kongo conducted a successful interception against a target in December 2007, making Japan the first U.S. partner nation to use a ship-based weapon to destroy a medium-range missile target. The test was performed against a nonseparating target, eliminating the need for the interceptor to identify its warhead and booster rocket (see GSN, Dec. 18, 2007).

The United States has already shot down separating targets (Associated Press II/International Herald Tribune, Nov. 1).

The Chokai is the second of four Japanese destroyer ships expected to be outfitted with Aegis missile defense gear, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency reported (U.S. Missile Defense Agency release, Oct. 30).

November 3, 2008
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The U.S. Navy destroyed one mock enemy ballistic missile and missed another in an interceptor test on Saturday (see GSN, June 6).