The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Program accomplished its ninth successful intercept of 11 attempts for the program, on June 22, as the Navy and Missile Defense Agency successfully conducted Flight Test Maritime-12 (FTM-12) from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii. As part of its role as the Aegis BMD program's Technical Direction Agent, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., assisted in the planning and execution of the flight test. Additionally, the Lab provided a close-up look at intercept via the third APL-developed sensor platform flown on a medium-range target vehicle.
The Lab defined the characteristics used to develop the target trajectory for this mission. "The type of target vehicle used in this Aegis BMD flight test enables us to change key trajectory parameters for each flight test in order to provide a different target presentation than that used in previous missions," says Mr. Ault, APL's project manager for Aegis BMD Test and Evaluation. "These selectable parameters enable us to exercise different functions of the weapon system, collectively spanning the threat envelope throughout the flight-test program."
The intercept exercise, one event within the larger "Stellar Athena" campaign, involved the first firing of a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) from a destroyer using the Aegis BMD 3.6 Combat System. After its successful installation in Aegis cruisers, the combat system is now being installed aboard destroyers, and this test successfully verified the system's performance for this type of warship. The Aegis BMD 3.6 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 ballistic target intercept test, the campaign included a live AAW firing using an SM-2 Block IIIA missile launched by the Aegis BMD 3.6 weapon system, and the first simultaneous tracking and simulated engagement of two ballistic missile targets.
As Technical Direction Agent for the Aegis BMD program, APL performs a wide range of activities before, during and after flight tests including performing preflight predictions of the Aegis BMD combat system's performance, and defining mission and target scenarios. During a test, they evaluate real-time target performance assessments and evaluate missile telemetry data. Among its post-flight responsibilities the APL team analyzes flight data, and updates and validates radar and six-degree-of-freedom performance simulations.
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.
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 images and/or information about FTM-12, visit www.mda.mil.