The United States plans another test of its ship-based
missile defense system.
The Defense Department has scheduled a test of its SM-3 interceptor on
an Aegis-class cruiser for Wednesday evening. Officials said this will be
the fourth test of the sea-based missile defense system.
The Aegis test will be on the USS Lake Eerie, equipped with the Aegis
defense system. The Aegis will fire an SM-3 missile to intercept a
short-range Aeries target missile in a test over the Pacific Ocean.
"The primary objective of this test is to evaluate the SM-3 kinetic
warhead's guidance, navigation and control operation in space using an
upgraded solid divert and attitude control system," a Pentagon statement
The U.S. Navy has launched a project to modify three Aegis cruisers to
carry the missile defense system and the SM-3 inteceptor. Officials said
that so far, all of the tests of the Aegis have been successful. The last
test was in December 2002.
The latest test is the second of a series of six launches meant to
demonstrate the Aegis technology under what officials termed
operationally-realistic ballistic missile engagement scenarios. The Aegis
has been examined by a range of U.S. allies as a system that could be more
flexible than the ground-based PAC-3 missile defense system.
Officials said the lessons learned from previous tests have been
incorporated into a new design for a control system. They said the
performance improvements focus on the addition of a high-energy pulse that
increases maneuvering capability.
Raytheon Missile Systems, based in Tucson, Ariz., is the prime
contractor for the development of the SM-3 missile. Alliant Tech Systems
has developed the improved maneuvering system for the interceptor.