The U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have conducted the first test launch from an Aegis Ashore test complex in Kauai, Hawaii, officials with Lockheed Martin told USNI on Wednesday.
The Tuesday test had the installation on Hawaii fire a Raytheon SM-3IB missile against a simulated target. The shot was also the first live missile test of the ballistic missile defense (BMD) component of the Navy’s new Baseline 9 Aegis missile system upgrade, said Brendan Scanlon, director Aegis Ashore programs at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business in Moorestown, N.J.
The test is a couple of months ahead the start of construction for the first Aegis Ashore site in Romania.
“It’s certainly much easier to do it on a test range, than in a host nation,” Scanlon said.
“The only practical place to do this is in Hawaii to go and test it out.”
A second test is slated for May of 2015. That test will be an actual intercept of a BMD target, not a simulation.
Tuesday’s test comes just four years after the start of the Aegis Ashore program.
In 2009, the U.S. shifted its proposed missile defense systems from permanent ground installations to BMD missions based from guided missile cruisers and destroyers and a ground Aegis system that could be moved — albeit over several months.
The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for BMD has since prompted the Navy to move four Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers to Rota, Spain for regular BMD patrols in the Mediterranean as well as develop Aegis Ashore.
The facility has the same SPY-1D radar as the cruisers and destroyers as well as the same Mk-41 Vertical Launch System armed with SM-3 missiles.
The system is using Lockheed’s most recent Baseline 9 Aegis software and hardware, though tailored specifically for the BMD fight. Versions installed on Arleigh Burke destroyers will be able to intercept ballistic missiles as well as aircraft using SM-2 and SM-6 missiles.
There are no plans to add similar capability to Aegis Ashore, Scanlon said.
Lockheed Martin has just finished disassembling the Aegis Ashore site which was erected at the company’s New Jersey facility— now bound for Romania, Scanlon said.
“A couple of months from now they’re going to be putting that building back up over there,“ he said.
Three rotational crews of 11 sailors will man the site with civilian support in each of the Aegis Ashore sites, USNI News reported in August.