There were all kinds of eyes on this “Made in Japan” piece of high-tech gadgetry, part of a first-ever collaboration between the U.S. Navy and Japanese Navy that resulted in a successful missile test yesterday morning in waters off the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, near Kekaha.
The intercept missile was U.S. made, the Standard Mis-sile-3 (SM-3), but the nosecone attached to it was from the Japanese Navy and Japan’s defense agency, while the target missile was simulated in the anti-missile computer system aboard the U.S. Navy’s USS Lake Erie around 60 miles off PMRF.
Continuing a collaboration between officers of the navies and missile-defense agencies of both countries that dates back to 1999, yesterday’s test marked a milestone involving a missile launch with mixed parts from leaders of both countries, U.S. Missile Defense Agency leaders said in a press release.
United States Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering III announced that leaders of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), in cooperation with those from the Japan Defense Agency and the U.S. Navy, successfully completed the cooperative flight-test mission, Joint Control Test Vehicle-1 (JCTV-1).
The test demonstrated the performance of an SM-3 missile that has been modified with a Japan-designed advanced nose-cone, and the Aegis BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) Weapon System.
In previous Aegis BMD flight test missions, the SM-3 missile maneuvered to eject the nosecone before deploying the kinetic warhead to intercept the target. With the modified configuration, the nosecone opens like a clamshell without any missile maneuvers.
At approximately 10:45 a.m. yesterday, a simulated target was entered into the Aegis BMD Weapon System onboard the USS Lake Erie (CG 70).
Based on the simulated target, the ship developed a fire-control solution (anti-missile launch).
At approximately 10:47 a.m., the Lake Erie’s crew launched the modified SM-3.
The Aegis BMD Weapon System’s technicians guided the SM-3 through its first, second, and third stages.
At 10:48 a.m., after completion of the third stage’s burn, the advanced-design nosecone was deployed at approximately 55 miles above the Pacific Ocean and 60 miles northwest of Kaua’i.
For the JCTV-1 flight test mission, the kinetic warhead of the SM-3 missile was replaced with an instrumentation and telemetry package (ITP).
The ITP recorded temperature and shock readings during the flight test mission, and its cameras viewed the separation of the clamshell nosecone.
This flight test mission is part of the U.S.-Japan Joint Cooperative Research Project that began in August 1999.
The objectives of the project are to perform research on advanced components of the SM-3 missile.
This flight test mission is an important milestone in the project, and is an example of the close coordination between U.S. and Japan leaders in ballistic missile defense, Obering said.
Several officials of both the Japan and U.S. agencies and military units viewed the simulation at PMRF and Pearl Harbor on O’ahu, a Navy spokes-person said.
The test, after seven intercept launches using real target missiles fired from PMRF, is the first using Japanese-developed missile parts.
According to information in an earlier Associated Press story out of Tokyo, Japan missile-defense officials are eager to develop a missile-defense system of their own after North Korean leaders launched a long-range missile over the main island of Japan in 1998.
Both U.S. and Japan military officials have indicated concerns over development and testing of missiles by the North Koreans, and for the U.S. leaders Kaua’i and Hawai’i targets are within range of certain missiles that could be fired from North Korea.
Under a bilateral agreement reached in December, Japan leaders are responsible for building nosecones and rocket engines for SM-3 interceptors, and paying about one-third of the $3 billion total cost of the project.
United States MDA and U.S. Navy officials cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD Program.
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors of Moorestown, N.J., is the Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA) and prime contractor for the Aegis Weapon System and Vertical Launch System installed in Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers.
Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., is the prime contractor for the SM-3 missile and all previous variants of Standard Missile.