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News Release


Release No: 594-02
November 21, 2002


The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Navy announced today a successful flight test in the continuing development of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Flight Mission-4 (FM-4) involved the firing of a developmental Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) from the Aegis ballistic missile defense cruiser USS Lake Erie to engage a ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

The target was launched at 2:30 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (7:30 p.m. EST). The USS Lake Erie, equipped with Aegis BMD computer programs and equipment, developed a fire control solution without any external sensor inputs. Within two minutes after target launch the Aegis Weapon System fired the SM-3 guided missile. Approximately two minutes later, the missile's kinetic warhead acquired, tracked and diverted into the target, demonstrating the Aegis BMD system's capability to engage the ballistic missile target in the ascent phase. This was the third consecutive target intercept.

The primary objective of this test is to demonstrate the Aegis BMD system capability to engage the ballistic missile target in the ascent phase of flight. Extensive engineering evaluation data has been collected for analyses in preparation for future flight tests. Project officials will evaluate the data and incorporate changes as required.

With the success of the FM-3 flight test on June 13, 2002, the Aegis BMD project has accelerated its flight-testing objectives. The next test, FM-4, marks the beginning of a six flight test series to develop an emergency deployment sea based ballistic missile defense against short-to-medium range ballistic missiles. FM-4 is the first developmental flight test against more complex and stressing ballistic missile engagement scenarios. An extensive ground test program had already conducted successful testing of elements of the Aegis BMD system.

MDA and the Navy manage the Aegis BMD Project. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is the prime contractor for the development of the SM-3 missile. Lockheed Martin Naval Electronic and Surveillance Systems, Moorestown, N.J., manages the development of the Aegis Weapon System installed in Aegis cruisers and destroyers.

For television media, satellite transmission of the launch video is scheduled as follows: Between 10:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, and 12:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 22, uplink to Telstar-6 TR-C1, upsouth teleport in Atlanta will turn Telstar-6 TR-C1 to AMC GE-2 TR-K5. Photographs of the test can be accessed at http://www.news.navy.mil or http://www.hawaii.navy.mil.

News media points of contact are Chris Taylor, MDA External Affairs, at (571) 232-0882 (cell) or (703) 697-8001 in Hawaii, Maj. Cathy Reardon at Missile Defense Agency at (703) 697-8491 or Cheryl Irwin, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, at (703) 697-5331.

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