Lights Out! Knock Out!

May 10, 2012

Dear Members and Friends,

Against the black sky and shimmering stars close after a tropical sunset outside of Hawaiian waters, the sky lite up as a ballistic target missile was knocked out by the U.S. Navy.

A few hundred miles off the northwestern coast of Kauai, DDG 70, the Lake Erie Aegis BMD Cruiser launched the new Standard Missile IB out of one of its vertical launch tubes and successfully destroyed and intercepted a Scud like non-separating short range ballistic missile target a few minutes after the ship acquired the launch off Kauai. With the recently certified new 4.0.1 processor and the AN/SPY-1 Radar on board, Lake Erie tracked and produced fire control solutions providing the information to the SM3 IB missile, in the tube before it launched and continued to provide it updates until the kill vehicle separated from the third stage of the missile. The new kill vehicle that has an additional sensor and is powered by a new divert rocket motor, successfully applied these two new technologies in an intercept making this interceptor class significantly more capable then it’s predecessor, the SM3 IA . The SM3 IA are deployed throughout our Navy and in the Japanese Navy today. Having two sensors and a more efficient rocket motor enables the SM3 IB missile much more confidence in separating targets, and discriminating them to exactly locate and terminate the targeted re-entry vehicle.

This new capability will handle more sophisticated threat missiles, and will be fully relied upon for the protection of Europe, in the second phase of the EPAA, where 24 of them will be in the Aegis Ashore site in Romania and multiple others on United States Aegis BMD ships patrolling European waters by 2015. In addition, these new missiles on Aegis BMD ships with 4.0.1 processors will be highly sought after and required by the 5th and 7th U.S. Navy Fleets as well as the United States Combatant Commanders of CENTCOM and PACOM to defend and protect their area of responsibilities.

This first successful test demonstration of the SM3 IB missile was a deliberate scenario that provided the foundation requirements of a simple threat acquired, tracked and terminated all by one platform, the USS Lake Erie and its crew. This test scenario could also be viewed as a realistic demonstration depicting a North Korean short range ballistic missile heading towards South Korea and the use of a U.S. BMD Aegis ship from the 7th fleet deployed in the Sea of Japan defending South Korea and the U.S. forward based troops located there. There are two more upcoming sophisticated and more complex tests scheduled this year to further demonstrate its capability. The previous test on the SM3 IB missile did not see the engagement of the kill vehicle on the target and as a result did not apply the use of the new sensor and rocket motor in intercepting the target as this successful test has clearly demonstrated.

U.S. Congress law requires that these and any new missiles cannot be deployed until required testing and certification is complete. There are a total of five successful tests required for the SM3 IB missile to be initially certified, all scheduled this year. Three of them are flight intercepts of which one is now complete and the remaining two are ground tests. The earlier generation of SM3 IA missiles will have to be relied upon as the U.S. Navy needs them in all of their Fleets until the successful initial certification of the SM3 1B is complete.

This success continues to show that the U.S. leads in technology and Aegis Missile Defense is more advanced than the of the rest of the world and provides a capability to stay in front of the proliferation of ballistic missiles that we are witnessing into today’s world.

We greatly appreciate the engineers, scientists and all of the individuals both in government and industry that have worked on the development of this test, as well as the Captain and crew of the USS Lake Erie as they have brought this technology to fruition. Before they sailed last week, MDAA had the pleasure to honor FC1 Joseph Fields and FC 3 Kyle Gerlofs representing their ship, the USS Lake Erie and recognized their excellence of the SPY Band Radar and BMD applications that was used for this successful test.

This intercept success of the SM3 IB marks a significant momentum shift of the next generation interceptor for our Navy and for the protection of Europe.

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