Five in the Sky

October 25, 2012

Dear Members and Friends,

Early this morning, on and off the atolls of Kwajalein, in the South Pacific, our nation’s missile defense war fighters, from across our military service branches, fought together as one integrated force to simultaneously track and take down five fast moving air and space targets, in the sky. This demonstrated a realistic war scenario of what countries such as Korea and Iran could do with their air and rocket forces. Two medium range ballistic missiles, two short range missiles, an aircraft target, and one cruise missile were all in the sky simultaneously providing multiple layers, speeds, and altitudes for our nation’s missile defense systems to acquire, track, and destroy. All five targets in the sky were tracked, acquired, and four of the five targets were destroyed, ‘metal on metal,’ in kinetic energy intercepts from the sea based platform Aegis Ship, the land based platform THAAD, and land based platform Patriot. This is a truly tremendous feat of magnitude and accomplishment, for no other nation in the world could do today, or in the near future, what the United States of America has done with this now proven robust layered air and missile defense.

This test used current missile defense units along with their troops and sailors to operate, manage, and command the tracking and intercepts in this Pacific theatre. The USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Aegis ship and crew commanded by CDR Brian Mutty from the 7th Fleet out of Yokosuka, Japan, the Alpha-4 THAAD Battery from Fort Bliss, Texas commanded by Col Clem Coward of the 11th Army ADA Brigade from the 32nd AAMDC, the Patriot Advanced Capabilty-3 (PAC-3) Battery of 1-1 Army ADA Battalion out of Okinawa, Japan assigned to the 94th AAAMDC commanded by LTC Joe McCallion, the Fire Control Battery from the 69th ADA Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas commanded by Col Randy McIntyre and the overall missile defense command in the Combatant Command of the Pacific the 94th AAMDC commanded by BG Dan Karbler at Fort Shafter, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) acquired and shot down an aircraft target with a SM-2 vertically launched missile while simultaneously tracking and acquiring a medium range missile target but did not fire its SM-3 Block 1A missile at that medium range missile. The THAAD Battery acquired and shot down a separate medium range missile at extended range while the PAC-3 Battery acquired and destroyed both a short range missile and a cruise missile.

Integration of the command and control, to make the fire control decisions, to launch from multiple missile defense systems while at different types of threats and at the same time is a significant achievement that brings confidence in the intercept of a layered capability against multiple threats. This ensures a critical defense against missiles, cruise missiles, and aircrafts carrying weapons of mass destruction.

Not only does this elaborate and one of the most complex missile defense tests ever done achieve reliability within our nation’s military to defend against North Korea and Iran with the missile defense capability that we have today, it provides similar confidence to our allies in the Pacific, Middle East, and Europe in our nation’s ability to defend them. With U.S. missile defense capabilities such as was demonstrated, we assure our allies with defense by our joint service abilities to defend against multiple types of threats at the same time. Further, allies that are using some of or all of the U.S. systems for the defense of their own country are provided with reliability and confidence as they could not afford to demonstrate such a complex test as this.

It is a tribute to the engineering marvel and dedication by all of the personnel at the Missile Defense Agency to orchestrate the complexity and execution of this test. It is a commitment of excellence displayed by our nation’s men and women in the Army, Navy, and Air Force in their joint missile and air defense fight.

They collectively make us so proud to be American today in knowing we can defend against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft anywhere in the world, making our nation and our world safer.

On behalf of our mission, all of our members, and our Alliance, MDAA is honored to have recognized and visited each of the participating deployed missile defense systems involved with this test and the selfless men and women that operate them in their respective theaters over this past year. We take great pride in knowing them and honoring them for their true excellence and great achievement for our nation and world.

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