The Navy successfully demonstrated a Theater Ballistic
Missile Defense (TBMD) capability today when a ballistic missile
target was shot out of the sky for the first time using a new
version of the proven STANDARD missile family. With this
intercept the Navy moved into a new era where the Navy will play
an increasingly vital role in the defense of forces ashore. This
joint development effort is conducted by the Navy under the
direction of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. This
new mission for the Navy, highlighted by today's intercept at
10:32 a.m. (EST) over the White Sands Missile Range in New
Mexico, is to defeat the growing Theater Ballistic Missile (TBM)
By capitalizing on the nation's long term investment in the
AEGIS fleet of cruisers and destroyers, and taking advantage of
rapid advancements in missile technology, the Navy will provide
protection from TBMs for debarkation ports and coastal airfields
as well as U.S. and allied expeditionary troops overseas. The
SM2 Block IV-A, the next generation of the STANDARD Missile, will
enable the fleet to project a theater ballistic missile defense
capability ashore in support of joint forces.
The modified STANDARD Missile 2 Block IV (SM2 Blk IV) which
destroyed the LANCE TBM target this morning adds a state-of-the-
art infrared seeker to the Navy's existing SM2 Blk IV, with
reduced developmental risk. The result is superb downrange and
cross range performance at extremely high altitudes against TBMs
while maintaining an area defense capability against enemy
aircraft and cruise missiles.
USS Lake Erie (CG 70) and USS Port Royal (CG 73), home
ported in Pearl Harbor, will be the first ships to receive TBMD
system modifications and SM2 Block IV-A missiles. They will
conduct at-sea testing, develop core doctrine and tactics, and
serve as focal points for putting the very latest theater
ballistic defense technology in the hands of our sailors.
Last March, China fired a series of TBMs into the
ocean near Taiwan. USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), was called on short
notice to reposition and track the TBMs using its SPY-1A radar.
While Bunker Hill's AEGIS Combat System recorded each missile
flight in detail, it did not
have a missile onboard capable of intercepting the threat. The
successful TBM intercept at
White Sands this morning puts in place the final building block
that will complete the Navy's Area Theater Ballistic Missiles
The Navy's first, and still primary overland mission
capability rests in the versatility
and strength of carrier based strike aircraft. The Navy's
capacity to hit targets repeatedly and accurately is built on
this foundation. Enhancing this capability is the formidable
punch resident in the Navy's surface and subsurface TOMAHAWK
cruise missile forces, which have achieved an outstanding
operational record since their first use in DESERT STORM.
The missile flown today was integrated by the Standard
Missile company (SMCo), which is jointly owned by Hughes Missile
Systems Company and Raytheon Company. SMCo is the prime
contractor for STANDARD missile and the design agent for
development of Navy TBMD missiles.
For additional information, contact the Navy news
desk at (703) 697-5342.