Walking the Walk

April 15, 2011

Dear Members and Friends,

 

Last night in the dark skies between Hawaii and the Kwajalein Atoll, a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA missile, part of the current inventory on all 21 Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) ships, was launched from the USS O’Kane (DDG-77) located a few hundred miles from Hawaii. The missile was launched by early sensor information from the forward-based AN/TPY-2 X-band radar on Wake Island in a process called “launch on remote” and successfully intercepted an intermediate-range target missile. It only took 11 minutes for the Polaris type target missile, launched from Meck Island in the Kwajalein Atoll over 3,000 kilometers away, to be tracked, intercepted and destroyed high in space above the Pacific Ocean.

 

This successful intercept is a significant achievement for the SM-3 Block IA, as it was originally designed for use against short-range ballistic missiles. There is now great confidence in the proven capability of the Aegis BMD System, when coupled with forward-based AN/TPY-2 radars, against missiles with ranges of up to 3,000 kilometers. Additionally, there is confidence in the system’s ability to defend a much larger area.

 

Validation of Phase I of President Obama’s Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) for Europe has been achieved with this successful demonstration. Phase I is the deployment of an Aegis BMD ship with SM-3 Block IA missiles in the Eastern Mediterranean, coupled with forward based AN/TPY-2 radar in either Turkey or Bulgaria, to provide defensive capability against Iran for southern Europe by the end of this year.

 

This demonstrated “launch on remote” capability will provide immediate protection for Israel, where an AN/TPY-2 radar is already based. There is another forward-based radar in Shariki, Japan that could be configured to offer the same early information to the Aegis BMD ships in their mission to protect Japan, Guam, South Korea and the U.S. forward operating¬† bases there.

 

The “launch on remote” demonstration displays the proven capability of the Aegis BMD system, AN/TPY-2 radar and SM-3 Block IA interceptors to track and defeat missiles like the Iranian Sejil-2 and currently deployed North Korean ballistic missiles. Upcoming future deployments of the Terminal High Attitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries and their forward-based X-band radars in the Persian Gulf and in the Far East, combined with the current Aegis BMD system will provide much greater extended protection for our troops, forward bases and allies.

 

Having this proven capability to defeat the best missiles that Iran and North Korea currently have in place sends a strong message of deterrence and counter-proliferation that will help stabilize these volatile regions.

 

We recognize, congratulate and appreciate the work done by all those involved in making this complicated, critical test a success including the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Captain and crew of the O’Kane, Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, Missile Defense Integrated Operational Center (MDIOC) in Colorado Springs and the Missile Defense Agency.

 

These people and organizations’ flawless execution have made our nation and the world safer.

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