Sea to Shining Sea

June 06, 2008

Mahalo Members and Friends,

Yesterday morning at 8:17 am HST, 250 miles off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, the crew of the USS Lake Erie fired a salvo of two Standard Missiles-Twos (SM2s) at an incoming Scud-like missile launched off the USS Tripoli, a floating launch platform. At 8:18 am HST, the second intercept of the SM-2 Block IV occurred, which marked the 10th successful intercept of the US Aegis Sea-based system and the 27th successful intercept by the United States since the decision to deploy missile defense in 2002. This additional type of missile defense interceptor differs from the other systems in the U.S. inventory (SM-3, PAC-3,GBI and THAAD) as it uses a fragmentation explosive device to destroy the incoming ballistic missile rather than kinetic energy. The SM-2 Block IV is similiar to the PAC-3 system as it intercepts incoming missiles within our 60 mile high atmosphere during the terminal phase of the ballistic missile’s flight.

The United States’ successful demonstration of the SM-2 Block IV missile gives the United States Navy a missile defense interceptor that can defend ships at sea as well as near shore populations, ports and small areas from short-range Scud-type ballistic missiles. This near-term capability offers utility, mobility and presence with the US Navy, especially in the areas of the Far East and the Persian Gulf where so many exposed cities and populations are vulnerable to short-range ballistic missile threats. Protection of the US Navy Fleets, Battle Groups and Aircraft Carriers is also much needed as the proliferation and sophistication of offensive ballistic missiles grows.  This near-term naval system can also be used if necessary to defend the cities and areas near the coastlines of the United States from asymmetrical container or barge ship threats with short-range ballistic missiles.

The United States Navy has around 100 SM-2 missiles in their inventory, however, these missiles were not designed or developed for missile defense. Through this test demonstration and validation of success, the SM-2 Block IV missile can and will be converted from Surface-to-Air capability to a Short-Range Terminal Missile Defense capability. The US Navy has unequivocally proven its ability to adapt their sea-based missiles, as the historic Satellite shoot down earlier this year displayed by converting an SM-3 missile to successfully intercept and destroy the incoming toxic satellite in space. The estimated 100 SM-2 Block IV missiles are a needed near-term capability, but they are not the long-term solution. This development follows closely to that of the Patriot-2 Ground-Based missiles of the 1990s that were originally designed as surface-to-air interceptors before being converted to Missile Defense capability, which led to the current Patriot-3 missile defense system.

This development and testing success is a win-win for the United States and the International Community as having an additional layer that is mobile throughout the oceans of the world makes our Armed Forces, Allies and populations around the globe safer.

Congratulations to the brilliant minds, engineering prowess and advanced technology that has been displayed today by the US Military and its Team.

Sea to Shining Sea

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