missile defence

The US Armed Forces, Lockheed Martin and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have completed the ballistic missile defence system’s (BMDS) multifaceted operational test at Wake Island and in surrounding areas of the western Pacific Ocean.

The flight test was conducted jointly by the MDA, BMDS Operational Test Agency, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defence, US European Command, and US Pacific Command.

Known as Flight Test Operational-02 Event 2 (FTO-02 E2), the test involved the terminal high-altitude area defence (THAAD) weapon system, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), the US Navy’s third Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), an AN/TPY-2 radar, and the command, control, battle management and communications (C2BMC) suite.

During the testing, the US Air Force’s (USAF) C-17 aircraft dropped a short-range air launch target (SRALT), which was tracked by the AN/TPY-2 X-band radar of THAAD system, and destroyed by the system’s interceptor.

An extended medium range ballistic missile (eMRBM) was air-launched by another USAF C-17 aircraft. This was tracked by multiple BMDS assets, including the AN/TPY-2 in forward-based mode, and the USS John Paul Jones with AN/SPY-1 radar.

"This realistic and complex operational test demonstrated that a multi-tier layered defence is essential."

Soon after the eMRBM launch, a BQM-74E air-breathing target was also released. It was then tracked by the USS John Paul Jones.

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Following the tracking process, both Aegis BMD and THAAD launched interceptors to engage the eMRBM.

Lockheed Martin THAAD vice-president and programme manager Richard McDaniel said: "This realistic and complex operational test demonstrated that a multi-tier layered defence is essential in the protection of nations from current and emerging air and missile threats."

Since 2001, the BMDS programme has seen 68 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 84 flight test attempts.

Image: USS John Paul Jones releases the SM-6 Dual I missile to intercept cruise missile target. Photo: courtesy of US Department of Defence.