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December 11, 2018

Johns Hopkins APL Plays Key Role in Aegis Ashore Intercept Flight Test

Aegis Ashore Intercept Flight Test

FTI-03 marked the second time that an SM-3 Block IIA missile was launched from the Aegis Ashore site, and the first SM-3 Block IIA intercept of an intermediate-range ballistic missile target.

Credit: Missile Defense Agency

Aegis Ashore Intercept Flight Test

This photo shows the moment of intercept from the Dec. 10 testing of the SM-3 Block IIA.

Credit: Missile Defense Agency

Engineers from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, working with industry partners, the Missile Defense Agency, and U.S. Navy sailors manning the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC), played a key role in successfully intercepting an intermediate-range ballistic missile target using a Standard-Missile (SM)-3 Block IIA missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii.

This test, designated Flight Test Integrated-03 (FTI-03), marks the second time that an SM-3 Block IIA missile was launched from the Aegis Ashore site, and the first SM-3 Block IIA intercept- of an intermediate-range ballistic missile target.

See the video.

“This SM-3 Block IIA flight test from Aegis Ashore continues to advance our capability in ballistic missile defense for Allies and our troops abroad in Europe. The test provides critical threat-representative flight test data for the SM-3 Block IIA missile and Aegis Ashore complex” said Dr. Patrick Stadter, APL Aegis BMD Program Area Manager. “It’s a key step forward to capability upgrades for ballistic missile defense.”

During the test, a target representing an intermediate-range ballistic missile was air-launched from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft over the broad ocean area southwest of Hawaii. Space-based sensors and a U.S. Army AN/TPY-2 radar located at Wake Island detected the target, and track information was relayed to the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) suite located at the U.S. European Command. C2BMC provided AN/TPY-2 track information to the Aegis Ashore weapon system on Kauai, which developed a fire control solution and engaged the target with an SM-3 Block IIA.

Aegis Ashore is the land-based component of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system and incorporates the same radar, weapon system and launcher components as those used aboard the U.S. Navy’s cruisers and destroyers. MDA is developing Aegis Ashore for use as part of the U.S. contribution to the defense of Europe from ballistic missiles. The first system was activated in Romania in 2016, and a site in Poland is under construction and expected to be activated in the future. 

The AAMDTC at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, is a test and evaluation center used in the development of Aegis Ashore.

APL contributed to the FTI-03 flight test scenario design, conducted preflight combat system and missile analyses to verify the test objectives could be safely met, and will perform postflight assessment and validation of models. As the Technical Direction Agent (TDA) for Aegis BMD, APL is an integral part of the full systems engineering life cycle, including the testing and transition of BMD capability to the fleet and Aegis Ashore. The AEGIS weapon system is developed by Lockheed Martin, Moorestown, New Jersey. The SM-3 is developed by Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona.

Media contact: Paulette Campbell, 240-228-6792, Paulette.Campbell@jhuapl.edu

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 www.jhuapl.edu.