The Missile Defense Agency conducted the first flight test of the Raytheon-made Standard Missile-3 from the Aegis Ashore weapon system, which is designed to protect U.S. deployed and NATO forces in Europe from ballistic missile attack.
The non-intercept scenario tested the safe launch and fly-out of an SM-3 Block IB against a simulated target; an intercept flight test is scheduled for next year.
“The capability to deploy the SM-3 at sea and on land gives combatant commanders operational, deployment and logistical flexibility,” said Dr. Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems. “The missile can be used in either construct in varying missions and locations with no modification.”
The land-based system uses the same SM-3 missile deployed on Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships today and currently holds 24 SM-3 missiles at one time. The Aegis Ashore system also possesses the capacity for additional launchers and missiles.
“The SM-3 Block IB deployed for the first time earlier this year at sea, and the success of this Aegis Ashore test keeps us on track to deploy the missile on land in 2015,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 senior director.
According to the European Phased Adaptive Approach plan for missile defense, the first Aegis Ashore site will be operational in Romania in 2015. The second Aegis Ashore site is on track for Poland in 2018. Both sites will be capable of launching SM-3 Block IAs, IBs and IIAs (2018).
Whether launched from sea or ashore, SM-3s destroy incoming ballistic missile threats in space using nothing more than sheer impact, which is equivalent to a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph. In both land and sea-based versions, the U.S. Navy leverages the same logistics and support infrastructure for both land- and sea-based SM-3s, which saves money, time and training.
* The program has completed 26 successful intercepts in space.
* More than 180 SM-3s have been delivered to the U.S. and Japan to date.
* All Aegis Ashore testing takes place in the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex, which will remain at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.