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Double Trouble: Ship Launches Two Missile Defenders Against Target in Unprecedented Test

The first Standard Missile-3 in a double shot missile defense test rockets skyward to strike out a ballistic missile target off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

Call it double-trouble missile defense.

In a first-of-its-kind drill, the U.S. Navy consecutively launched two Standard Missile-3 Block IB missiles at a single target in a test high above Earth’s atmosphere on September 18, 2013.

By a margin of seconds, the first SM-3 won the race, destroying the target and confirming the ability of warships to launch multiple missiles at one time against an incoming ballistic missile threat.

“Confidence in the SM-3 IB’s defensive capability continues to grow with each flight test,” said Dr. Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. “When this weapon deploys in 2015, the U.S. and our allies will have a tremendously reliable, capable defensive asset on their side.”

During the test, one complex, separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. In response to the incoming threat target, Sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie deployed in the Pacific fired two SM-3 Block IB interceptors in succession.

“We’re gaining a tremendous amount of information about what this missile can do, and in many instances it is far surpassing design requirements,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Missile Systems’ SM-3 program director.  “The SM-3 Block IB is proving it can take on increasingly sophisticated scenarios, and that kind of confidence sets the stage for a production decision.”

Last week, Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 Block IA and AN/TPY-2 radar played key roles in a first-of-its-kind operational test of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System.

A critical element in the Ballistic Missile Defense System, AN/TPY-2 continually searches the sky for ballistic missiles.

The AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar is a billboard-size, high-resolution radar mounted on a truck chassis. Using the mobile radar to cue the SM-3 can greatly extend the missile’s reach.

Published: 10/16/2014

Last Updated: 05/18/2015

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