June 5, 2008
Kristi Marren, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
APL Helps Enhance Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Capability
During a Hawaii-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) flight test today, APL's Standard Missile experts helped test a new layer of defense being added to the Aegis BMD system that will provide sailors with more operational flexibility.
During "Stellar Scorpion," also known as Flight Test Maritime-14 (FTM-14), an APL team, made up of Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) and Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) experts, helped conduct the first test of the Aegis BMD 3.6.1 combat system, an upgrade to the currently fielded system that provides simultaneous BMD and ship self-defense capabilities for protecting sea- and land-based assets against short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.
"This is the first time the SM-2 is being tested as part of an operational Aegis BMD system," says Mike Forehand, APL's Aegis BMD weapon system project manager. "While the SM-3 is used against longer-range, midcourse threats, this enhancement to the combat system adds a near-term, sea-based terminal defense capability using SM-2s for some shorter-range threats."
An SM-2 Block IV successfully intercepted a short-range ballistic missile-like target, marking the 18th Aegis-based flight test to date since the test series began in 1997.
For this flight test event, APL formed a team bringing together the Lab's SM-2 Block IV-A and Aegis BMD experts. As the technical direction agent for the Aegis BMD and Standard Missile programs, the team performed a variety of tasks before the flight test event including mission planning, defining mission and target requirements, and making target signature predictions. APL analysts performed preflight predictions of the missile's performance using high-fidelity simulations, and will be updating and validating these simulation models using flight data to enhance the accuracy of future performance predictions. Additionally, APL staff provided field support at the Pacific Missile Range Facility during the test event.
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-2 and 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.
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu