US Navy destroyer intercepts mock ICBM with standard missile
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the US Navy have successfully destroyed a mock ICBM missile on the edge of space using a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile launched from the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113).
With the proliferation of ballistic missile technology, the development of anti-missile systems that are flexible enough to take on a wide variety of threats coming from different adversaries with different capabilities has become a major priority for US defense planners. Instead of the simple Cold War strategy of seeing off the threat of Soviet missiles and little else, the US military must field a defense system that is both flexible and coordinated.
An example of this occurred on November 16 when a target ICBM was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands aimed at the waters northeast of Hawaii. Designated Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-44, this was the sixth flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile from an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel.
In the wide target zone, the John Finn engaged with the missile using the SM-3 as part of a defense of Hawaii scenario. The ICBM was tracked remotely by the Command and Control Battle Management Communications (C2BMC) network, which is the integrating element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) that allows the monitoring and control of ballistic missile threats by the US President down to field commanders using networked sensors and weapons on a regional and global scale.
According to the MDA, the purpose of the test was to determine if the SM-3 missile, which was originally designed to handle intermediate-range missiles, could take on an ICBM.
"This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program," says MDA Director, Vice Admiral Jon Hill. "The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat. We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target, which is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland. My congratulations to the entire test team, including our military and industry partners, who helped us to achieve this milestone."
The successful intercept test can be seen in the video below.