Ballistic Missile Defense System
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The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System is a United States Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency program developed to provide a last line of defense against ballistic missiles. Aegis BMD (also known as Sea-Based Midcourse) is designed to intercept ballistic missiles post-boost phase and prior to reentry. It builds upon the Aegis Weapon System with the AN/SPY-1 radar and Standard missile technologies. Aegis BMD equipped vessels can transmit their target detection information to the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, and if needed engage potential threats using the SM-3 missile.
The current system uses the Lockheed-Martin Aegis Weapon System and the Raytheon RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3). Notable subcontractors and technical experts include Boeing, Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Honeywell, Naval Surface Warfare Center, SPAWAR Systems Center, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (Lincoln Lab).
Aegis BMD Vessels
As of June 2006, the US Navy has equipped 3 Ticonderoga class cruisers, the USS Lake Erie, USS Shiloh and USS Port Royal, with anti-ballistic missile capability. The US Navy is currently converting 15 additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to incorporate the Aegis BMD capability. These ships include: USS John Paul Jones, and USS Russell, USS Ramage, USS Benfold,USS Milius and USS Decatur. A total of 3 cruisers and 15 destroyers are scheduled to have BMD capability by 2009.
On April 26, 2007, Aegis BMD successfully intercepted its eighth target in ten attempts. This test marked the 27th successful “Hit-to-Kill” intercept (for all MDA systems) since 2001. The USS Lake Erie was the firing ship and utilized the Aegis 3.6 Weapon System. The interceptor was the SM-3 Block-Ia. This test not only demonstrated the ability of ABMD to intercept a ballistic missile but also demonstrated the Lake Erie’s ability to simultaneously track and intercept antiship missiles. This test also utilized the Solid Divert and Attitude Control System (SDACS), in the full pulse configuration.
On June 22, 2007, the USS Decatur, using the operationally-certified Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System (BMD 3.6) and the Standard Missile – 3 (SM-3) Block IA missile, successfully performed a “Hit To Kill” intercept of a separating, medium range, ballistic missile. The target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, HI. The Aegis-class cruiser USS Port Royal, Spain’s Álvaro de Bazán class frigate MÉNDEZ NÚÑEZ (F-104), and MDA’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) mobile ground-based radar also participated in the flight test. FTM-12 (Codename: Stellar Athena) was the first to use an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer as the firing ship.
(Codename: Stellar KIJI) On 17 December 2007, the JDS Kongō successfully intercepted a ballistic missile with SM-3 Block IA and Aegis System. The target was launched from Pacific Missile Range Facility. This was the first time a Japanese ship was selected to launch the interceptor missile. In previous tests Japanese ships provided tracking and communications.
Japan’s foreign minister Hirofumi Nakasone and South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yu Myung-hwan agreed that early April 5, 2009 launch of the North Korean Unha-2 satellite violated UN resolutions 1695 and 1718 of July 2006. Japan’s cabinet examined approval of a JMSDF AEGIS BMD engagement in the event of a failure of the Taepondong launch.
Japan also noted that it could bypass cabinet for an interception under Article 82, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Self-Defence Forces law. In total, 5 AEGIS destroyers were deployed at that time.
Supplemental to SM-3 capability the Japanese system incorporates an airborne component. Together discrimination between platform tests and satellite launches is possible by analyzing the angle of ascent.