The U.S. Missile Defense Agency on Dec. 8 conducted the second developmental flight test of its Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 2A interceptor and awarded Raytheon a contract to build 17 more.
Two days later, the MDA carried out the first intercept test involving a land-based variant of the SM-3 Block 1B, a smaller interceptor deployed primarily on ships at sea. The land-based SM-3 Block 1B variant is being developed as part of the MDA multiphased plan for defending Europe against missile threats.
In the Dec. 10 test, the Block 1B interceptor, cued by a remote AN/TPY-2 radar, lifted off from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Complex on Kauai, Hawaii, and destroyed a ballistic missile target that had been launched from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft. The test’s success keeps the MDA on track to begin deploying SM 3 Block 1B interceptors in Romania next year, Raytheon said.
“This test proved that no matter how you launch it, an SM-3 can hunt down threats in space and destroy them,” Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Arizona, said in a Dec. 10 release. “The flexibility to deploy SM-3s from land or sea expands protection options for our combatant commanders and allies around the world.”
Meanwhile, on Dec. 8, the MDA conducted a flight test of the SM-3 Block 2A, being developed jointly with Japan, from the Point Mugu Sea Range on San Nicolas Island in California. The test did not include the launch of a target.