SM3 Block 1B launched from USS Lake Eire. Photo: US Navy, NAVAIR

The missile fired from the USS LAKE ERIE (CG 70) missile cruiser successfully intercepted a short-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean. The missile cruiser detected the target missile launched from Kauai, Hawaii, tracked it with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar and developed a fire control solution for the interceptor with its Aegis BMD 4.0.1 weapon system.

Following the launch of the interceptor LAKE ERIE continued to track the target, sending trajectory information to the SM-3 Block IB interceptor in-flight. According to the MDA brief the SM-3 Block 1B maneuvered to a point in space, as designated by the fire control solution, and released its kinetic warhead. The kinetic warhead acquired the target, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the threat in a hit-to-kill intercept.

The recent test was the second test flight of the SM-3 Block IB and the first successful intercept of the new missile, in combination with the second-generation Aegis BMD 4.0.1 weapon system. Previous successful intercepts were conducted with the Aegis BMD 3.6.1 weapon system and the SM-3 Block IA interceptor, which are currently operational on U.S. Navy ships deployed across the globe. FTM-16 Event 2a is the 22nd successful intercept in 27 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 53rd successful hit-to-kill intercept in 67 flight test attempts since 2001.

Aegis BMD 4.0.1 and the SM-3 Block IB interceptor improve the system’s ability to engage increasingly longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles that may be launched in larger raid sizes. The SM-3 Block IB interceptor features a two-color infrared seeker, which improves sensitivity for longer-range target acquisition and high-speed processing for target discrimination. The SM-3 Block IB interceptor also features an upgraded onboard signal processor and a more flexible throttleable divert and attitude control system to maneuver the IB interceptor to intercept.

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