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Sea-Based Missile Defense Test Successful

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2006 – A U.S. Navy ship shot down a long-range ballistic missile in its final seconds of flight during a test yesterday.

It was the first successful ship-launched intercept of a ballistic missile in its terminal phase, U.S. military officials said.

During the Navy and Missile Defense Agency test, Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie, equipped with technology to detect and track intercontinental ballistic missiles, launched a Standard Missile 2 to intercept a missile fired from the Pacific Missile Range facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

"The test yesterday was an opportunity to see if a modified configuration of the SM-2 sea-based missile was effective against a terminal phase target, and it did succeed in intercepting it," Rick Lehner, an MDA spokesman, said.

In November, USS Lake Erie shot down a missile in mid-flight using the Standard Missile 3 interceptor, which is a mid-course phase interceptor, Lehner said.

The U.S. currently has no active sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense capability.

Prior to yesterday's test, only ground-based interceptors, such as the Patriot Advanced Capability 3, have shot down target missiles in their final descent stage.

"We believe it (yesterday's test) is an important step towards the desired end-state of a robust sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense capability," Navy Rear Adm. Barry McCullough, director of surface warfare on the staff of the chief of naval operations, said. "And it begins to meet an immediate near-term concern of our combatant commanders."

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Rear Adm. Barry McCullough, USN

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