HomeNews & MediaPress ReleasesPress Release 
December 11, 2003
For Immediate Release

Media Contacts
Kristi Marren
JHU Applied Physics Laboratory
Phone: 240-228-6268 or 443-778-6268

APL Plays Key Role in Successful Missile Defense Flight Test

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., played a key role in today's successful intercept test, Flight Mission-6 — the latest in a continuing flight test series conducted by the Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy — to develop a sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System. Flight Mission-6 involved the firing of a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) from the Aegis BMD Cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70) against a target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, resulting in a hit-to-kill intercept. This was the fourth successful intercept for Aegis BMD and SM-3.

Today's test also helped evaluate the Ballistic Missile Defense System's long-range surveillance and track capability, successfully relaying target information to the command and control system.

"Flight Mission-6 is the fourth intercept for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program and represents another big step in APL's critical efforts to help the Navy and Missile Defense Agency develop an Aegis BMD system to protect the U.S., its forces and allies from ballistic missile attacks," says Conrad Grant, business area executive for APL's air and missile defense programs. "This flight test is also representative of the Laboratory's continuing heritage in Standard Missile development."

As Technical Direction Agent for both SM-3 and Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense programs, APL plays a key role in flight tests, including Flight Mission-6. In preparation for these tests, APL performs preflight predictions of the missile's performance using high-fidelity simulations and tests missile software in labs on the APL campus. Laboratory teams simulate hundreds of missile flights before each flight test to ensure robust missile performance.

APL also defines mission requirements; establishes test scenarios (including identifying locations for air-, ground-, and sea-based platforms); conducts debris analysis for range safety; and determines acceptable launch windows to avoid orbiting satellites. In the field, on test day, APL technical experts support the Raytheon SM-3 launch team and man control consoles at the Pacific Missile Range Facility to support the target instrumentation and operations.

Following each flight, APL performs a post-flight reconstruction of the mission and analyzes the flight data to update and validate six-degree-of-freedom performance simulations, and participates in any post-flight investigations associated with the tests.


APL has worked on missiles and combat systems since the Lab was founded six decades ago, and continues to play a major role in the U.S. Navy's Standard Missile Program since the program's inception nearly a half-century ago.

APL's beginnings in missile engineering date back to the establishment of the science of guided missiles with the Bumblebee Program during the 1940s. The Laboratory pioneered many of the scientific, engineering, and design approaches associated with missile guidance and control, seeker and warhead design, missile telemetry, and overall round design leading to missile production. These became the design principles of the Standard Missile family of weapons. APL has been and continues to be a key contributor to the success of the Standard Missile program, providing technical leadership as the Navy's surface-to-air missile evolved from the Terrier, Tartar, and Talos series of missiles to the Standard Missile family and, today, into MDA's new missile defense architecture.

MDA and the Navy manage the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Program. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is the prime contractor for the development of the SM-3 missile. Lockheed Martin Naval Electronic and Surveillance Systems, Moorestown, N.J., manages the development of the Aegis Weapon System installed in Aegis cruisers and destroyers.

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.