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Missile Defense Test Yields Successful 'Hit to Kill' Intercept

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2006 – The Missile Defense Agency and the Navy conducted a successful "hit to kill" missile defense test yesterday off the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

The test involved the launch of a Standard Missile 3 from the Aegis-class cruiser USS Shiloh to hit a "separating" target, meaning that the target warhead separated from its booster rocket, officials said.

"Hit to kill" technology uses direct collision of the interceptor missile with the target, destroying the target using only kinetic energy from the force of the collision.

It was the seventh successful intercept test involving the sea-based component of the nation's ballistic missile defense system in eight attempts, Missile Defense Agency officials noted.

"We are continuing to see great success with the very challenging technology of hit-to-kill, a technology that is used for all of our missile defense ground and sea-based interceptor missiles," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering, Missile Defense Agency director.

At about noon Hawaii time -- 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time -- a target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on Kauai. USS Shiloh's Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 3.6 Weapon System detected and tracked the target and "developed a fire control solution," officials said. About four minutes later, the USS Shiloh's crew fired the SM-3, and two minutes later the missile intercepted the target warhead outside the Earth's atmosphere, more than 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean and 250 miles northwest of Kauai.

This was the USS Shiloh's first missile defense test since completing modifications and upgrades to its SPY-1 radar and advanced communications system to make it capable of serving as a sea-based missile defense platform. It was also the first time the new weapon system configuration and a new missile configuration were used during the intercept mission.

Three Aegis destroyers also participated in the flight test. One Aegis destroyer, equipped with a modified version of the Aegis ballistic missile defense weapon system, linked with a land-based missile defense radar to evaluate the ability of the ship's missile defense system to receive and use target data via the missile defense system's command, control, battle management and communications architecture.

Two other Aegis destroyers stationed off Kauai, including one from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, performed long-range surveillance and track exercises. This information can also be used to provide targeting information for other missile defense systems, including the ground-based long-range interceptor missiles now deployed in Alaska and California, to protect all 50 states from a limited ballistic missile attack, officials said. This event marked the first time an allied military unit participated in a U.S. Aegis missile defense intercept test.

Another U.S. Navy Aegis cruiser used the flight test to support development of a SPY-1B radar modified by the addition of a new signal processor, collecting performance data on its increased target detection and discrimination capabilities.

(From a Missile Defense Agency news release.)

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Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering, USAF

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