The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Operational Test Agency, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and U.S. Pacific Command, in conjunction with U.S. Army soldiers from the Alpha Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, U.S. Navy sailors aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73), and U.S. Air Force airmen from the 613th Air and Operations Center successfully conducted a complex missile defense flight test, resulting in the intercept of two medium-range ballistic missile targets. The flight test was planned more than a year ago, and is not in any way connected to events in the Middle East.
The test was conducted in the vicinity of the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site and surrounding areas in the western Pacific. The test stressed the ability of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon systems to function in a layered defense architecture and defeat a raid of two near-simultaneous ballistic missile targets.
The two medium-range ballistic missile targets were launched on operationally realistic trajectories towards a defended area near Kwajalein. Along with overhead space assets providing launch alerts, an Army-Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control (AN/TPY-2) radar in Forward Based Mode detected the targets and relayed track information to the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system for further transmission to defending BMDS assets.
The USS Decatur with its Aegis Weapon System detected and tracked the first target with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The Aegis BMD weapon system developed a fire control solution, launched a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA missile, and successfully intercepted the target.
In a demonstration of BMDS layered defense capabilities, a second AN/TPY-2 radar in Terminal Mode, located with the THAAD weapon system, acquired and tracked the target missiles. THAAD developed a fire control solution, launched a THAAD interceptor missile, and successfully intercepted the second medium-range ballistic missile target. THAAD was operated by soldiers from the Alpha Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment. As a planned demonstration of THAAD’s layered defense capabilities, a second THAAD interceptor was launched at the target destroyed by Aegis as a contingency in the event the SM-3 did not achieve an intercept.
Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. MDA officials will extensively assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
The event, a designated Flight Test Operational-01 (FTO-01), demonstrated integrated, layered, regional missile defense capabilities to defeat a raid of two threat-representative medium-range ballistic missiles in a combined live-fire operational test. Soldiers, sailors, and airmen from multiple combatant commands operated the systems, and were provided a unique opportunity to refine operational doctrine and tactics while increasing confidence in the execution of integrated air and missile defense plans.
U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have completed 62 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 78 flight test attempts since 2001.