US demonstrates enhanced capabilities of larger, more advanced missile defense interceptor
The US Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have completed the first successful intercept flight test of a Raytheon Company Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA, a defensive weapon designed to defeat short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.
Crew members onboard the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) launched a SM-3 Block IIA, which successfully engaged and destroyed a land-launched target resembling an advanced ballistic missile threat.
"The SM-3 Block IIA program continues to reflect MDA's commitment to maturing this regional ballistic missile defense capability for the defense of our nation, its deployed forces and our allies abroad," said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. "This test success keeps the program on track for deployment at sea and ashore in the 2018 timeframe, building on Raytheon's unequalled fifteen-year history of exo-atmospheric intercepts."
The test's primary objective was a successful intercept. The mission was also designed to evaluate key missile system performance, including the kinetic warhead, divert and attitude control system functionality, nosecone performance, steering control section function, booster performance and separation and the second and third stage rocket motor performance and separation.
The interceptor's kinetic warhead has been enhanced to best address advanced and emerging threats, with improvements to the search, discrimination, acquisition and tracking functions. The kinetic warhead, along with larger rocket motors, allows SM-3 Block IIA to engage more sophisticated threats and protect larger regions from short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats, providing greater operational flexibility.
The SM-3 Block IIA was flown twice before in successful test demonstrations, both without target intercepts, in order to fully evaluate the missile in flight and prepare for the first intercept test. Future flight tests will continue to evaluate system performance, en-route to a 2018 deployment in support of the European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase 3.
About the Standard Missile-3
SM-3s destroy incoming ballistic missile threats in space using nothing more than sheer impact, equivalent to a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph.