Press Release   Home  >   News & Publications  > News

For Immediate Release

May 16, 2013

Media Contact:
Gina Ellrich
(443) 778-7796

Johns Hopkins APL Plays Key Role in Test of Second-Generation Aegis BMD Missile Defense System

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1B interceptor is launched from the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test in the mid-Pacific.

Credit: MDA

Today, engineers from The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., contributed to the successful test of a system critical to the U.S. effort to protect against growing regional ballistic missile threats.

The APL team was instrumental in planning and instrument development for the Missile Defense Agency’s Flight Test Maritime-19 (FTM-19) — the third successful intercept of a ballistic missile target using the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system. The Aegis BMD system detected, tracked and engaged an Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicle-Group C (ARAV-C) Ballistic Missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

The operationally realistic test demonstrated the capability to lethally intercept a sophisticated, separating target with the Aegis BMD weapon system and an SM-3 Block IB missile. “This mission is the culmination of a series of flight tests to incrementally demonstrate the advanced capability that has been designed into the Aegis BMD and SM-3 Block IB system,” says Vishal Giare, APL’s assistant program area manager for Aegis BMD.

The test target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai. “APL engineers developed test scenario parameters that allowed key weapon system capabilities to be tested. They also developed and integrated instrumentation on the ARAV-C target to ensure vital data was collected to validate our high-fidelity models and simulations,” adds Giare.

An Aegis cruiser stationed off Kauai used its advanced multifunctional phased-array radar, the AN/SPY-1, to detect and track the ballistic missile target and provide guidance commands to the SM-3 Block IB missile to destroy the target.

This test is the third in a series of three planned flight tests for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IB system to demonstrate its capability to intercept a variety of differently configured ballistic missile targets. The previous tests, FTM-16 Event 2A and FTM-18, were completed last year, on May 9 and June 26, respectively. Ultimately, this system is planned as a central component of the Phased Adaptive Approach envisioned by the United States for ballistic missile defense.

As the technical direction agent for Aegis BMD, the Applied Physics Laboratory is integral in the full systems engineering lifecycle, including testing and transition of the BMD capability to the fleet. APL played a critical role in planning and designing the mission scenario, evaluating the test target, and predicting the Aegis BMD system performance for the test.

The Missile Defense Agency 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., is the prime contractor for the Aegis BMD Combat System installed in Aegis cruisers and destroyers.

For more information about APL, visit For images and/or information about FTM-19, visit

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

APL Celebrates 80 Years of

Game-Changing Impact

Read more

80th anniversary