Military

US Navy destroyer intercepts mock ICBM with standard missile

US Navy destroyer intercepts m...
SM-3 missile being fired from the USS John Finn
SM-3 missile being fired from the USS John Finn
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SM-3 missile being fired from the USS John Finn
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SM-3 missile being fired from the USS John Finn
A SM-3 Block IIA being launched from the USS John Finn on Nov. 16, 2020
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A SM-3 Block IIA being launched from the USS John Finn on Nov. 16, 2020

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.

A SM-3 Block IIA being launched from the USS John Finn on Nov. 16, 2020
A SM-3 Block IIA being launched from the USS John Finn on Nov. 16, 2020

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.

USS John Finn Successful SM-3 Block IIA Intercept Test.

Source: MDA

8 comments
riczero-b
Extraordinary beautiful images.
michael_dowling
We don't need a half dozen views of the ABM launch. ABMs historically have had spotty success rates. Such a defense would only be effective to defend against rogue state missile launches. It would be easily overwhelmed by multiple reentry vehicles.
paul314
It's nice that they can hit a fast-moving cooperative target. Be nicer if they could show it happening with maneuvering targets, jamming and decoys.

Nicer still if we could spend those resources on keeping the planet habitable.
Dan_of_Reason
I'm hopeful that the DoD knows the Eighties-era arcade game Missile Command. If you are not familiar, the premise of the game was to launch nukes to stop nuclear ICBMs. It greatly increases the ability to disable a threat (simply through blast volume/energy), unlike hitting a bullet with a bullet. This news is great but the nuclear option is a stopgap we should have ready. Don't lecture me on 'oh, there will be fallout', the stakes are higher in a major war. An idea to sell to environmentalists is 'nuclear winter' will offset global warming (stay indoors and make sure you have iodine), however I am a great proponent of warming.
Alex
paul314, полностью с вами согласен: эффектно, но не эффективно. Российские "Авангард", "Циркон", "Буревестник", "Посейдон", "Периметр" сводят на ноль ЛЮБУЮ войну. И действительно, гораздо лучше потратить эти деньги на улучшение экологии, чем на войну.
alexD
maybe or maybe not.... but this video is very bad ... we don't care for launches anymore... we are tired of launches. Shows the actual 5 seconds pre-intercept, slow mo, thermal, ultra-violet (need ?), visual, with references....
Or even better, do not publish anything at all since it should be a matter of actual security but since it's out there, I assume that this is also a decoy so the spies will tell their sides of the "oh so awesome" tech while we have our actual tech already years ahead of this and just hiding....
anthony88
I agree with Paul314 and Alex's ending views.
Worzel
If it was a mock missile, then it probably had no anti missile defences that fully functional missile would have, so, probably, a total waste of time money, that others have commented could have been better spent.