Military Embedded Systems

Layered ICBM defense demonstrated by U.S. Navy in Pacific test


November 17, 2020

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Layered ICBM defense demonstrated by U.S. Navy in Pacific test
Photo: U.S. Missile Defense Agency

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) reported that the U.S. Navy shot down a target meant to mimic an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) over the Pacific Ocean with an SM-3 Block IIA missile, in a demonstration of a possible plan to defend Hawaii. 

The test is the first time the U.S. military has intercepted an ICBM with anything other than a ground-based interceptor, according to MDA officials. 

The SM-3 Block IIA is ballistic missile defense interceptor made by Raytheon Missiles & Defense (a Raytheon Technologies business) in conjunction with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan. 

"This first-of-its-kind test shows that our nation has a viable option for a new layer of defense against long-range threats,” stated Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

MDA director Vice Admiral Jon Hill said of the test: "This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program. The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat. We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target, which is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland. My congratulations to the entire test team, including our military and industry partners, who helped us to achieve this milestone."

According to a news release from the MDA, program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data gathered during the test.

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