An important missile test, marking the first time members of a crew aboard a U.S. Navy vessel will attempt to track and destroy a war- warhead separating from another potential target, is scheduled today in waters off the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, near Mana and Kekaha .
“It is another in a series of tests, and it’s important because this is the first time” members of the Navy crew will have to determine which part of a hostile missile is carrying a warhead, target it and destroy it, after the initial launched missile separates into two pieces, said Chris Taylor of the federal Missile Defense Agency .
“It’s a more difficult target.” Today’s “non-scenario” test means no notice of any launch will be given to officers of an unnamed U.S. Navy cruiser in waters off Barking Sands, he said .
Officers will receive information that things are happening in a certain country, there may be hostilities, a missile may be launched, and they have to respond and react, Taylor ex- explained .
The cruiser is equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, designed to take down enemy missiles during the middle of the flights, after the thrust stage and before the terminal, or re-entry phase, according to information on the Missile Defense Agency Web site, www.mda.mil .
For security reasons, Taylor was not able to say what time the scheduled launch of the dummy target missile will be .
The target missile will be launched from PMRF, and officers aboard the cruiser will detect and track the missile, then fire a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block I missile, from aboard the Aegis cruiser, with the intent to hit and kill the hostile missile .
The test objectives include evaluation of the following capabilities: ability to intercept a separating medium-range target in its midcourse phase of flight; and the ability of those at the controls of the Aegis Weapon System to accurately and effectively communicate information through and fully integrate that information into the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) under development .
Crew members aboard an Aegis destroyer, newly outfitted with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense equipment, will be stationed off the coast of Kaua‘i, and will also support the mission by performing long-range surveillance and tracking functions, Taylor said .
Eyes all over the world, of both friends and enemies, and those critical of the multi-billiondollar missile-defense program, will also be closely following the test .
Today’s will be the seventh intercept flight test attempt in the development of the sea-based element of MDA’s BMDS .
Five of the previous six flight tests resulted in successful intercepts (hits). Previous tests were conducted against short- and medium-range ballistic missile unitary (non-separating) targets .
PMRF is home to a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program, which includes a missile-launching facility .
THAAD is a truck-mounted, mobile, missile-launching system that can also fit into a C-130 aircraft for transport to areas near potential targets .
In terms of overall missile defense, boost-phase defenses against missiles on their way up from a launch site include high-powered lasers and missiles, while ground- and sea-based missile systems including Aegis are the primary weapons against hostile missiles in the midcourse phase of flight (a period of around 20 minutes when missiles are done with the boost phase but not yet to the re-entry phase) .
THAAD and other missilebased defenses are being developed to knock down hostile missiles in the terminal phase (re-entering the atmosphere and moving towards targets), or transitioning from the midcourse to terminal phases, according to the MDA Web site .
Earlier this week, also on Kaua‘i, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Gary Roughead told members of a group of around 700 engineers that the missile-defense industry is growing, due in part to greater awareness of the threat of longrange missiles .
Roughead spoke before an annual conference of the Directed Energy Professional Society .
The group’s members are mostly engineers who develop the high-energy laser and highpowered microwave technology used to make ballistic-missile-defense systems .
- Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report .