Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IA missile is launched by JS Kirishima, the 4th Japanese AEGIS BMD destroyer, to intercept a target missile outside the Earth's atmosphere, during a ballistic missile intercept test conducted in the Pacific Ocean, October 28, 2010. Photo: U.S. NavAir, Pt. Mugu.

Japan has completed testing of its upgraded AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system with the 4th Kongō class destroyer, JS Kirishima, equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, successfully intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile target above the atmosphere during an international test event.

The Kirishima detected and tracked the separating medium-range ballistic missile target. It then developed a fire control solution and launched and guided a Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IA missile to intercept outside the Earth’s atmosphere. In another test earlier this month, Kirishima demonstrated her ability to interoperate with the Navy for BMD operations. In a test event, Kirishima acquired a separating target passed from the U.S. destroyer with her own sensors and performed a simulated engagement against the target.
Two U.S. Navy Aegis BMD ships, the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) and USS Russell (DDG 59) also participated in the test. Russell, a BMD equipped destroyer, tracked the target and performed a simulated engagement. Lake Erie, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System — which provides greater on-board discrimination capability — tracked the missile target and post-intercept debris using its advanced signal processor.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the United States’ Ballistic Missile Defense System. Currently, a total of 25 Aegis BMD-equipped warships – 21 in the U.S. Navy and four in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force – have the certified capability to engage ballistic missiles and perform long-range surveillance and tracking missions. Twelve additional ships have been identified for modification to perform BMD capabilities by 2014.

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