As reported by CNN, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Navy conducted a test of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA this morning from the Aegis Ashore test site at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii that did not achieve an intercept. The test was scheduled, pre-planned, and pre-designed to prove out final capability of the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) directed third phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), to defend Europe from Iranian Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs). This capability, that was tested at PMRF in Kauai, is made up of a duplicate land-based Aegis Ashore intercept and sensor platform of the soon to be deployed Aegis Ashore site in Poland and the new SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, that is co-developed with Japan as directed by the 2010 BMDR EPAA Phase 3, to be operational by 2018. This was the first intercept test of the SM-3 Block IIA from an Aegis Ashore site and the third intercept test of the SM-3 Block IIA, that had a successful intercept test from the USS John Paul Jones in February last year. In real time operations, a minimum of two SM-3 interceptors in sequence would be fired at an single incoming ballistic missile.
In this environment we as a world are in, with the rapid and reckless pursuit of nuclear ballistic missiles by North Korea and ballistic missile proliferation of an unchecked Iran, we have to be fearless of failure and be absolutely resolute to ultimately succeed in testing and proving our capabilities to defeat these threats for the safety of our nation and the world. As President Donald Trump stated in the State of the Union Address last night, we are waging a campaign of maximum pressure on North Korea. Missile defense is a critical component of enabling maximum pressure on North Korea and the new Aegis Ashore and Aegis Afloat combined with the SM-3 Block IIA weapon system is a considerable asset for this pressure. We need to dig in, fix the issues quickly, and re-test quickly as our country has previously did with its missile systems in the past, under nuclear proliferation of the Soviet Union.
A fully proven SM-3 Block IIA coupled with the Aegis BMD Baseline-9 Plus operating system in this escalating environment force multiplies the defense of Japan, defense of Guam, defense of Hawaii, and defense of Europe enabling a better defense of close to one billion people. Failure is not an option, it is a call to action, it forces success faster and issues that need to be resolved, fixed, and tested faster. Far better for this to fail now than to fail in combat defending islands in the Pacific or continental Europe.
“I think when it comes to innovation — and this is the mindset I have developed working in the commercial world — innovation is messy, and if you try something and it fails, I think that is — your point around risk — we should not be afraid. And organizations that pride themselves on execution tend to be afraid of failure. So I am a proponent of failing, failing fast, learning quickly. I think the faster you do that, the more we end up training people. It is not about the technology. It is about our people learning how to develop the technology because they know how the users can apply it.” Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan in testimony to Senator McCain and the Senate Arms Service Committee – June 20, 2017
Given the performance of all other aspects in this test, there is tremendous confidence on what needs to be fixed to get this weapon to meet its potential.