A THAAD interceptor is launched from Meck Island on its way to intercept a ballisticmissile target during MDArsquos flight test last month Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

A THAAD interceptor is launched from Meck Island on its way to intercept a ballistic-missile target during MDA’s flight test last month. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

Three-Pronged Missile-Defense Test Engages Multiple Targets

A test by the Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the interoperability of three regional missile defense systems: the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile, and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system.

Much progress has been made in missile-defense technologies in recent years. Ideally, these various systems will work together seamlessly to protect the US and its allies. To demonstrate such interoperability, Lockheed Martin recently performed a test involving its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile, and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system. This marked the first such test and successful engagement of all three missile-defense systems.

Working together, the systems detected, tracked, engaged, and negated two ballistic-missile targets and one cruise-missile-like target. Known as Flight Test Integrated-01 (FTI-01), these different sensors and weapons systems were integrated through the Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system developed by Lockheed Martin. 

This live-fire flight test was conducted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site (RTS), located on the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific (see photo).

The test began with an Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile, which was airdropped over the ocean area north of Wake Island from a US Air Force C-17 aircraft (staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI). The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, which is located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT. A THAAD interceptor then successfully intercepted the Medium-Range Ballistic Missile. The THAAD system was operated by soldiers from the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC).

Another short-range ballistic missile was launched from a mobile launch platform located in the ocean area northeast of Kwajalein Atoll. The PATRIOT system, which was manned by soldiers of the 94th AAMDC, detected, tracked, and intercepted the target with a PAC-3 interceptor. A second PAC-3 interceptor also intercepted a low-flying cruise missile target over water.

For its part, the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) successfully engaged a low-flying cruise missile over water. The Aegis system also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM). Despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, however, there was no indication of an SRBM intercept. 

The FTI-01 exercise was a combined developmental and operational test involving soldiers, sailors, and airmen from the multiple combatant commands that operated the systems. The test provided them with a unique opportunity to refine operating procedures. As part of the Kwajalein Range Service (KRS) joint venture, Lockheed Martin employees directed and controlled the radar, telemetry, and optics systems for this test at the newly established RTS Operations Center in Huntsville, AL. Program officials continue to assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

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