The Missile Defense Agency proved it could intercept a complicated medium range ballistic missile target with the Navy’s SM-6 missile, the agency announced.
The Wednesday test had two Raytheon SM-6 Dual I missiles launched from USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) against a “complex, medium-range ballistic missile target” at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Kauai, Hawaii.
“This test demonstrated the capabilities MDA and the Navy are delivering to our fleet commanders,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring said in an MDA statement.
“The SM-6 missile and the Aegis Weapon System continue to prove that they are critical components of our nation’s multilayered, robust ballistic missile defense system.”
Wednesday’s test follows a 2015 SM-6 Dual I launch that proved the viability of the concept. Then, John Paul Jones used an SM-6 Dual I to intercept a ballistic missile target as a proof-of-concept for terminal sea-based defense.
The terminal phase “is the last opportunity to make an intercept before the warhead reaches its target. Intercepting a warhead during this phase is difficult and the least desirable of the phases because there is little margin for error and the intercept will occur close to the intended target,” read a description from MDA.
“The SM-6 missile uses an explosive warhead to defeat ballistic missile threats, differing from other missile defense interceptors, such as the Standard Missile-3, which use non-explosive hit-to-kill technology” read the MDA statement.
The dual use of the SM-6 Dual I allows the Navy to use the same missile for not only air and cruise missile targets but also as a terminal ballistic missile interceptor.
The capability is paired with John Paul Jones Baseline 9 Aegis combat system that allows the ship to simultaneously track and target both traditional air threats and ballistic missiles.
“Our latest Aegis Baseline 9 enhancements enable Aegis to continue to evolve to counter advanced threats,” Paul Klammer Lockheed Martin’s director of Aegis BMD said in a statement.
“And with each test, Aegis proves that it is the most advanced combat system for a proven layered defense.”