U.S. tests layered missile defense

A U.S. missile defense test over the Pacific Ocean stressed layered defenses in an attempt to shoot down two ballistic missile targets launched “nearly simultaneously.”

The Sept. 10 test was conducted near the U.S. Army’s Kwajalein Atoll test site in the western Pacific and included the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems along with other sensor assets.

DOD’s  Missile Defense Agency said two medium-range missile targets were tracked by unspecified “space assets” that detected the launches along with surface surveillance and control radars. Missile track information was then relayed to a command and control battle management system that handed off data to the Aegis and THAAD missile defenses.

The Aegis Weapon System aboard the destroyer USS Decatur used its SPY-1 radar to detect and track the first target before launching a Standard-3 missile to intercept it.

Meanwhile, the THAAD’s TPY-2 radar acquired and tracked the second target before launching an interceptor missile at the second target. A second THAAD interceptor was also launched at the target destroyed by the Aegis system as a planned contingency in case the Standard missile missed its target.

The agency said initial indications were that Aegis, THAAD and other missile defense components performed as designed. The agency did not disclose the exact timing of the target missile launches, but did say they flew “operationally realistic trajectories.”

Test managers also stressed that the Pacific missile test was planned more than a year ago and “is not in any way connected to events in the Middle East.”

Defense Systems Update

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