Test of Aegis missile defense records first failure

Thursday, June 19, 2003

The United States has marked the first failure of its ship-based missile defense system.

The Defense Department said a test of the Aegis missile defense system in the Pacific Ocean failed to intercept the target missile. The Pentagon said the SM-3 interceptor missed its target although its guidance system was activated.

Several U.S. allies have been examining the Aegis system for their missile defense programs, Middle East Newsline reported. The Aegis has been described as an alternative to the ground-based PAC-3 system and is said to be capable of intercepting such missiles as the North Korean No-Dong and Iran's Shihab-3 intermediate-range missiles.

A Pentagon statement said the Standard Missile-3, or SM-3, was fired from the USS Lake Erie in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. EDT.

The SM-3 was meant to intercept the Aries target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.

"Preliminary indications are that the SM-3 interceptor missile deployed its kinetic warhead, but an intercept was not achieved," the Pentagon statement said. "The primary objective of this test was to evaluate the SM-3 kinetic warhead's guidance, navigation and control operation in space using an upgraded solid divert and attitude control system."

Officials said this was the first failure of Aegis system. Three previous tests had been deemed successful.

The Pentagon said government and industry officials will conduct an extensive analysis of the flight test, and the results will be used to improve the Aegis development and testing program.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover