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Press Advisory


Release No: 070-03
June 16, 2003

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Flight Test Scheduled

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy are scheduled to conduct Aegis ballistic missile defense Flight Mission-5 (FM-5) flight test on June 18, 2003 with a window from 4 to 8 p.m. EDT. FM-5 will involve the launch of a standard missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor from the Aegis ballistic missile defense cruiser USS Lake Erie against an Aries target launched from Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

The primary objective of this test is to evaluate the SM-3 kinetic warhead's guidance, navigation and control operation in space using an upgraded solid divert and attitude control system (SDACS). While flight tests using an earlier version of the SDACS were successful, the lessons learned from those flight tests and preceding ground tests have been incorporated into this new design to improve performance and improved production. Performance improvements center on the addition of a high-energy pulse that increases divert (maneuver) capability. Extensive engineering evaluation data will be collected for analysis in preparation for future flight tests.

FM-5 is the second of a planned six flight test series within the missile defense Block 2004 time period to develop a sea based ballistic missile defense against short to intermediate range ballistic missiles. FM-5 is the second developmental flight test against more complex, stressing, and operationally realistic ballistic missile engagement scenarios. Increases in operational realism in this test include the addition of the up-range destroyer to provide a cue and maneuvering of the USS Lake Erie during the test. Future tests will continue to increase operational realism.

The Aries target missile will fly a realistic threat trajectory. The target has an on-board transponder for range safety purposes only. This transponder operates in a frequency band that can only be detected by shore-based range radars, and not by either the Aegis AN/SPY-1 radars or the SM-3 missile.

The MDA and the Navy manage the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Program. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is the prime contractor for the development of the SM-3 missile. Alliant Tech Systems builds the improved SDACS for the SM-3. Lockheed Martin Naval Electronic and Surveillance Systems, Moorestown, N.J. manages the development of the Aegis Weapon System installed in Aegis cruisers and destroyers, including the upgrades for the Aegis BMD System.

News media points of contact are Rick Lehner, MDA Communications at (703) 697-8997, Maj. Cathy Reardon (703) 963-3179 and Chris Taylor at (703) 963-3484.

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