Yesterday, from the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the coast of Hawaii, the Navy and Missile Defense Agency successfully conducted Flight Test Maritime-10 (FTM-10), one event within the four-part "Stellar Predator" campaign and the most comprehensive Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) intercept test to date. As Technical Direction Agent for the Aegis BMD program, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., played a key role in planning and executing yesterday's successful flight test.
FTM-10 was the first test of the Aegis BMD 3.6 Combat System, which includes the soon-to-be-fielded Standard Missile-3 Block IA and the newly upgraded BMD 3.6 weapon system. Combined, these elements bring improved capabilities to the larger Ballistic Missile Defense System. For the second time, APL-developed sensors were placed onboard the target missile, providing the missile defense community with a close-up view of the intercept. This was the seventh successful intercept in eight attempts for the Aegis BMD Program.
The overall test campaign, which concludes later this month, is also an important part of the certification process for the Aegis BMD 3.6 Combat System. This newest version of the combat system adds an anti-air warfare (AAW) component for area and ship self-defense, which can be used simultaneously with its BMD capability for protecting land- and sea- based theater assets. In addition to the intercept test, the campaign includes a ballistic missile tracking exercise, a simulated simultaneous AAW and BMD engagement, and two live AAW firings using SM-2 Block IIIA missiles launched by the Aegis BMD 3.6 Weapon System.
APL's role as Technical Direction Agent for the Aegis BMD program, which includes SM-3, involves a myriad of activities, particularly during preparations for a complex test campaign like "Stellar Predator" and intercept tests such as FTM-10. APL performs preflight predictions of the Aegis BMD system's performance using high-fidelity simulations of the AN/SPY-1 radar, as well as the SM-3. Actual missile computer programs are tested in labs on the APL campus. Laboratory teams simulate hundreds of missile flights before each flight test to increase confidence that the combat system is ready to test in an expensive live-fire mission.
Additionally, APL defines mission and target requirements; establishes test scenarios (including identifying locations for air-, ground-, and sea-based units); develops target signature predictions for weapon system analysis; conducts debris analysis for range safety; and determines acceptable launch windows to avoid orbiting satellites.
On test day, APL technical experts man test control consoles at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) to evaluate real-time target performance assessment, monitor and control target sensor payload operations, and evaluate interceptor telemetry. APL's PMRF field office, manned by two full-time technical APL staff members, coordinates placement of the range's high-speed camera instrumentation, supports range operations onboard an instrumentation platform, and coordinates the range's post-mission Data Analysis Center activities.
After the mission, APL experts immediately begin assessing combat system performance based on telemetry data, and process target sensor payload data from PMRF. They also initiate a comprehensive analysis of all test sensors to create a reconstruction of the flight mission. APL analysts' initial results are used to support "quick-look" reviews at the test range. More detailed analysis continues at APL and concludes with a final mission data review two to three months after a test.
At the conclusion of the flight mission data review, APL updates and validates the radar and six-degree-of-freedom performance simulations, and participates in any post-flight investigations associated with the tests. APL works with the larger Aegis BMD community, including Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors, and Raytheon Missile Systems, to engineer any necessary system modifications to fulfill the Aegis BMD mission. APL representatives are among the leaders in the joint community for link communications systems connecting Aegis ships and other sea-, space-, and ground-based assets.
For FTM-10, APL developed the second multi-purpose sensor payload that was integrated with the target missile to collect video and infrared imagery of the target's boost and post-boost phases of flight; video coverage of the target's reentry vehicle separation event; and spectral, radiometric and video coverage of the intercept.
MDA and the Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD Program. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is the prime contractor for the development of the SM-3. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors, Moorestown, N.J., manages the development of the Aegis BMD Weapon System installed in Aegis cruisers and destroyers.
For more information about APL, visit www.jhuapl.edu. For more information about FTM-10, visit http://www.mda.mil/mdalink/html/mdalink.html. For images, visit http://www.navy.mil/search/photolist.asp?sort_row=1&page=1&terms=SM%2D3&search_type=All.