HomeNews & PublicationsFeatured StoriesAllied Aegis Success: APL Technical Lead for Japan's First Ballistic Missile Flight Test 

February 7, 2008

Allied Aegis Success: APL Technical Lead for Japan's First Ballistic Missile Flight Test

When a Japanese destroyer fired its first Standard Missile- 3 (SM-3) and intercepted a target during a flight test over Hawaiian waters in December, APL engineers were among an international team making history.

Japan is the first U.S. ally to procure an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system and several SM-3s. During Japan Flight Test Mission-1, the Japanese conducted the first in a series of tests using an Aegis BMD system installed aboard the destroyer JS Kongo (DDG 173) in October 2007.

Contributing to the event's success were nearly 40 engineers from the Air and Missile Defense Department who performed a variety of tasks as part of their technical direction agent role for the Aegis BMD program. Activities ranged from planning, preflight performance predictions and developing a target sensor payload to mission-scenario design, range safety and data analysis.

During the planning stages an APL team, led by AMDD's K. Koeppen, traveled to Tokyo to present the missile and weapon system performance predictions to Japan's Ministry of Defense. K. Hayden, also of AMDD, served as the project officer and main interface between the Aegis BMD program office and the Japanese government, ensuring that all milestones and test objectives were met and all details were coordinated.

This was APL's 17th Aegis-based flight test since the series began in 1997, and the team's fifth test last year. "It's been quite a challenge juggling teams during the hectic flight-test schedule while simultaneously supporting future baseline upgrades," says M. Landis, supervisor of AMDD's Theater Missile Systems Engineering Group.

The AMDD team will support future Japanese flight tests, scheduled annually for the next few years. It's also supporting a U.S.-Japanese program to develop a new missile variant, the SM-3 Block IIA, which is slated to be fielded in Japan by 2015.

On the U.S. side of the program, the APL team is working on the next version of the Aegis weapon system (4.0.1) and missile variant, the SM-3 Block IB, which adds increased infrared discrimination capability to the kinetic warhead's seeker. The 4.0.1 system is in preliminary design and is scheduled to be fielded by 2011.