Press Release

APL Plays Key Role in Critical Integrated BMD Test

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 13:32

Today, engineers from The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) played a significant role in the successful test of a system critical to protecting the U.S. against growing regional ballistic missile threats.

The APL team led system-level analysis and evaluation for Flight Test Standard Missile-20 (FTM-20), which incorporated space-based sensors, Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) elements and Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System. The integrated test culminated in a live-fire Aegis BMD/Standard Missile-3 Block IA guided missile intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile target using Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) tracking data.

The target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. STSS acquired and tracked the target and provided fire control quality tracking data, which was processed and forwarded to an Aegis BMD cruiser by the Enterprise Sensors Laboratory (ESL) and C2BMC X-LAB components. The Aegis BMD cruiser fired the SM-3 based on STSS track data. As the target proceeded on its flight trajectory, the target was detected and tracked by the ship’s radar (AN-SPY-1). The SPY-1 radar provided guidance commands to the SM-3 guided missile to successfully close the fire control loop and intercept the target.

APL engineers and analysts worked closely with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to plan the test’s live-fire scenario and evaluate system performance before the flight. “APL’s comprehensive knowledge of Aegis and its expertise across radars, weapons and command and control systems was critical to the planning of the test,” says APL’s Vishal Giare, assistant BMD program area manager for Aegis BMD. “FTM-20 demonstrated the value of system integration to enable expanded battlespace with greater intercept reach.”

FTM-20 is part of a series of planned flight tests to demonstrate the Aegis BMD system’s capability to intercept a variety of ballistic missile targets. As the technical direction agent for Aegis BMD, APL is an integral part of the full systems engineering life cycle, including testing and transition of the BMD capability to the fleet.

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 guided missile. 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 images and/or information about FTM-20, visit