U.S. Succeeds at Sea-Based Missile Defense Test

The United States successfully tested its sea-based missile defense capability yesterday, destroying a Scud-like missile about 12 miles over the Pacific Ocean, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, June 3).

The USS Lake Erie, an Aegis-class Navy ship based in Hawaii, launched two Standard Missile 2 interceptors at a the target missile which had been launched from a decommissioned Navy vessel.

The Missile Defense Agency has had several successes with the Aegis system against missile targets flying in their midcourse trajectories, but yesterday's test was the just the second test to demonstrate the system's capability against missiles in their terminal phase, according to AP.

The test reinforced the agency's confidence in its sea-based missile defenses and in its ability to defend against ship-based launches, AP reported (Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press/Google News, June 6).

"I am suffering from post-shot euphoria," Lake Erie skipper Capt. Ron Boxall told onboard reporters.  "We plan for the worst but hope for the best, and today we did our best."

To enhance the real-world nature of the test, Boxall's crew was told only that the target missile would be fired sometime in the morning.  Radar operators monitored their equipment for any signs of a launch, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported.

"Fireball, Fireball," announced tactical action officer Lt. Brent Johnson at 8:19 a.m. when the launch was detected.

He ordered the firing of the two missile interceptors four minutes later, and the first struck the target 52 seconds later, according to the Star-Bulletin (Gregg Kakesako, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 6).

June 6, 2008
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The United States successfully tested its sea-based missile defense capability yesterday, destroying a Scud-like missile about 12 miles over the Pacific Ocean, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, June 3).