The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy will conduct a Sea-Based Midcourse (SMD) Flight Mission 2 (FM-2) test on Jan. 25, 2002. The launch window is open from 5 to 9 p.m. EST. The test will involve the launch of a prototype interceptor missile from the Aegis guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie, and the launch of an Aries target missile from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Kauai, Hawaii. The FM-2 is a controlled developmental test and not operationally representative.
Equipped with the Aegis Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile (LEAP) Kinetic Warhead (KW), this will be the first exoatmospheric (outside earth's atmosphere) flight of the KW. In order to gather the necessary engineering data required for the SMD flight test program, the Standard Missile-3 and KW will be aimed directly at the target, further enhancing data collection for evaluation. Additional data collection enhancement is achieved by controlling the target's flight orientation, altitude, attitude and direction. The Aries ballistic missile target has an on-board transponder for range safety purposes, but will not aid the radar, the interceptor missile or other systems during the test. Given the flight path, it is probable the two will collide, but an intercept is not a primary test objective at this point in the early developmental program. Data gathered from the test will help program officials learn more about the KW guidance design, simulation models and ground test program, enabling them to make any necessary corrections to the KW design prior to the first scheduled intercept test later this spring.
News media points of contact are Cheryl Irwin, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, at (703) 697-5331 or Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, MDA External Affairs, at (703) 697-8997.