MAJORS BAY — The U.S. Missile Defense Agency successfully intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile in a live-fire test Monday night from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
According to MDA, the ballistic missile was dropped from an Air Force cargo plane “thousands of miles southwest of the Aegis Ashore” test site at PMRF and the operational live-fire test demonstrated the Aegis Ashore’s engage on remote capability — a measure of its use of radar and other tracking methods.
“Today’s successful flight test demonstrated the effectiveness of the European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase 3 architecture,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “It also was of great significance to the future of multi-domain missile defense operations and supports a critical initial production acquisition milestone for the SM-3 Block IIA missile program.”
The engagement leveraged a ground, air and space-based sensor/command and control architecture linked by the Ballistic Missile Defense System’s Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications suite, MDA said in a news release.
Aegis Ashore is part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach and is the land-based version of the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. The system’s purpose is to identify, track and intercept short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles mid-flight and the Aegis Ashore systems are designed to be mobile, easily deployed around the world.
MDA says Aegis Ashore is operationally deployed in Romania and the test facility is on Kauai, where the first flight test of the Aegis Ashore system happened in May 2014.
“This system is designed to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends from a real and growing ballistic missile threat,” Greaves said.
Staging such a system at PMRF and firing live test rounds from PMRF has raised some questions about the base’s role in U.S. defense, but Tuesday officials at PMRF said the role of the base isn’t changing.
“PMRF’s mission is to provide training and testing opportunities for our nation’s military and allies. The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at PMRF is only one of many programs that takes advantage of our world-class facilities,” said Sara Sexton, public information officer for PMRF.
Normally, PMRF averages between six and nine major test events annually, including those conducted by the MDA, and the number of support staff and people needed for the testing varies.
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org