WASHINGTON, Sept 19 The U.S. military on
Wednesday conducted the second test of the ship-based Aegis
missile defense system in a week, firing two SM-3 missiles to
intercept a single, complex separating target in space, the U.S.
Defense Department said.
The test, carried out by the Missile Defense Agency, U.S.
Pacific Command and U.S. Navy sailors aboard guided missile
cruiser USS Lake Erie, took place off the coast of Hawaii on
Wednesday afternoon, according to the Pentagon statement.
"This was an operationally realistic test, in which the
target's launch time and bearing are not known in advance, and
the target complex was the most difficult target engaged to
date," the statement said.
Lockheed Martin Corp, which builds the Aegis combat
system, and Raytheon Co, maker of the Standard Missile-3
missiles, said the test results demonstrated the growing
capability of a system used by the United States and Japan to
defend against short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Wednesday's test followed a different test conducted on
Sept. 10 in which an SM-3 missile fired by the Aegis combat
system and Lockheed's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
(THAAD) missile defense system intercepted two medium-range
ballistic missiles fired nearly simultaneously.
In the latest test, a complex separating short-range
ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile
Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The Navy ship detected and
tracked the target using its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar, and then
launched two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to intercept it.
The Pentagon said the first SM-3 that was launched
successfully intercepted the target warhead. Raytheon said the
second SM-3 was launched to test the system's ability to launch
multiple missiles at one time against a threat. It was not
intended to intercept the target, the company said.
It was the first time two SM-3 missiles have been shot off a
U.S. Navy ship at one time, according to Raytheon spokeswoman
She said last week's test used the SM-3 Block IA missile
that is currently deployed, while Wednesday's test used the
company's next-generation SM-3 Block IB missile.
The Pentagon said the test was aimed at exercising the
latest version of the second-generation Aegis weapons system,
which is built to engage longer range and more sophisticated