This photo is pretty impressive. The story behind it is even more impressive. It shows the test of the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, the sea-based component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System. So what happened during this joint MDA and Navy test?
- At 11:10 p.m. HST last Tuesday, a medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, on Kauai, Hawaii.
- The target flew northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean.
- The in-orbit Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrators detected and tracked the target.
Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator (Source: Northrop Grumman)
- It forwarded track data to USS Lake Erie (CG 70), which is equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, to engage the target with Launch on Remote doctrine.
- The ship developed a fire control solution from the STSS-D track and launched the SM-3 Block IA guided missile approximately five minutes after the target launched.
- The SM-3 intercepted the target and vaporized it following a direct-hit minutes after its launch.
This marked the first live-fire intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile using space-based sensors. It was the 24th successful intercept in 30 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.
By Jason Kelly