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MDA Conducts Successful BMD Intercept with Ship-launched SM-6

A SM-6 Dual I fired from USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) during a Dec. 14, 2016 MDA BMD test. MDA Photo

A SM-6 Dual I fired from USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) during a Dec. 14, 2016 MDA BMD test. MDA Photo

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.”

  • Bailey Zhang

    I remember USNI says navy will test SM-3 IIA on October, I was hyped but still not tested today….

  • RobM1981

    I’ll take it at face value. We don’t need to know the definition of “Advanced Threats,” but it’s at least good to hear that the USN is at least claiming to be dealing with them.

    We used to use the term “PenAids,” so it’s not as if our military (and everyone else’s) don’t understand the overall equation here. Defeating “advanced threats” is absolutely necessary.

    I hope that the USN is dealing with these things openly and completely, at least behind closed doors.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      This is especially impressive since as far as we can tell the DF-21D has never been tested at sea or against moving targets. If what I’ve read is correct even the maneuverable reentry vehicle is theoretical, but unproven/tested.

  • @USS_Fallujah

    So the SM-6 can hit Ships, ASCMs, Aircraft & reentry vehicles. I wonder if CG/DDGs assigned to CSG escort will ship out with almost every VLS cell filled with SM-6s in the near future? Great flexibility augmented by a few ESSM, ASROC & TLAMs.

    • Bailey Zhang

      DDG/CG need ESSM for short range air defense, and SM-3 IB/IIA for long range exoatmospheric missile defense. real anti-ship warfare need LRASM.

      SM-6’s anti-ship and ballistic missile is for emergency use, can’t use all the time.

  • sferrin

    Interesting that they didn’t actually say they hit the target.

    • Marauder 2048

      The MDA press release was awkwardly worded but MDA’s Aegis BMD Test Record shows the SM-6 Dual I Interceptor FTM-27 (Dec. 14th 2016) as a “hit”

  • Marjus Plaku

    apparently word on the street is this test employed a threat/target vehicle representative of a MANEUVERING/guided/non ballistic flight path system, like china’s anti-ship ballistic missiles. hmmm… interesting, powerful stuff if they can figure it out and make it work, just in case the chinese can deliver.

  • old guy

    Next time the nut koreans launch a BM, shoot it down over international waters and thank them for the target.