Major developments are still to come
as a sea-based BMD system makes its way onto land
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
Missile Defense Collaboration
Missile-maker Raytheon Missile
Systems, Tucson, Ariz., declined
comment on the failure, deferring
questions to the MDA.
MDA spokesman Rick Lehner
said a failure review board will convene, “as is standard procedure,”
noting that the next test involving
the Block 1B missile would take
place next summer.
Still, both industry and MDA
have high hopes for the Block 1B,
which will pair well with baseline
4.0.1, the next iteration of the
Aegis BMD system that has been
installed on Lake Erie.
“The real breakthrough, if you
want to call it that, is the capability of the missile and the
ship to do a much better job of discriminating targets,”
said Nick Bucci, director of BMD development programs
for Aegis manufacturer Lockheed Martin Mission
Systems & Sensors, Moorestown, N.J. “We work as an
integrated team with Raytheon. They develop the SM- 3
as a part of the Aegis Weapon System. Our job is to make
the ship system and missile system work together in a
very integrated fashion.”
Raytheon has produced 130 Block 1As for the United
States and Japan, and the Block 1B will add a two-color in-
frared seeker and advanced signal processor, among other
advancements, to the missile, said Wes Kremer, the com-
pany’s vice president of air and missile defense systems.
The Block 1B “is the baseline missile that will be deployed both at sea and in the land-based configuration in
2015 to meet Phase 2 of the European PAA,” Kremer said.
The first phase will involve placing Aegis BMD ships
in strategic locations to provide missile defense until the
Navy and MDA finish developing a permanent land-based system, which is what the later phases will cover.
Two more variants of the missile are down the road.
The third, the Block 2A, is a collaborative development
Japan has aided the United States in the development of the
Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system for the last 20 years.
■ The U.S. Navy on Sept. 1 conducted the first flight test of the
Aegis BMD system using the Standard Missile- 3 (SM- 3) Block 1B,
which is built to handle more complex targets than the Block 1A
version currently used in the system. The test, however, failed.
■ The third variant, the Block 2A, is a collaborative development
program with Japan.
■ The Block 2B missile will be strictly for the land-based Aegis
As the U.S. Navy prepares its fleet of Aegis bal- listic missile defense-capable ships to play a key role in the Phased Adaptive Approach
(PAA) plan to protect Europe from missile attack over
the next decade, much work remains to upgrade and
test both the system and the missiles it uses.
While the most basic system of Aegis ballistic missile
defense (BMD) — baseline 3. 6. 1 — has been installed
and is operating aboard a large portion of the Navy’s
destroyers and cruisers, the service and Missile Defense
Agency (MDA) have been conducting some major tests
on the system and the Standard Missile- 3 (SM- 3).
However, the newest SM- 3, the Block 1B, suffered a
setback Sept. 1 during the first attempted intercept of
a ballistic missile target using the new interceptor,
which is meant to handle more complex targets than
the Block 1A version currently used by Aegis BMD.
Although the Block 1B missile successfully launched
from the cruiser USS Lake Erie during the test near
Hawaii, it failed to intercept the target. A statement
from the MDA said program officials would “conduct
an extensive investigation to determine the cause of the
failure to intercept.”