Five Targets, One Missile

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from Meck Island on its way to intercept of a ballistic missile target during MDA’s historic flight test on Oct. 24, 2012. (Photo by Andrew Hall)

The Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Army soldiers from the 94th and 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command; U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62); and airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center successfully conducted the largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.

An integrated air and ballistic missile defense architecture used multiple sensors and missile defense systems to engage multiple targets at the same time.

All targets were successfully launched and initial indications are that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system successfully intercepted its first medium-range ballistic target in history, and PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) near simultaneously destroyed a Short Range Ballistic Missile and a low flying cruise missile target over water.

The live-fire demonstration, conducted at U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Hickam Air Force Base and surrounding areas in the western Pacific, stressed the performance of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, THAAD and PATRIOT weapon systems.

An Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile was airdropped over the broad ocean area north of Wake Island from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT, and a THAAD interceptor successfully intercepted the medium-range ballistic missile. THAAD was operated by soldiers from the 32nd AAMDC.

Another short-range ballistic missile was launched from a mobile launch platform located in the broad ocean area northeast of Kwajalein Atoll. The PATRIOT system, manned by soldiers of the 94th AAMDC, detected, tracked and successfully intercepted the target with a PAC-3 interceptor.

The USS FITZGERALD successfully engaged a low-flying cruise missile over water. The Aegis system also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a short-range ballistic missile. However, despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, there was no indication of an intercept of the SRBM.

FTI-01 was a combined developmental and operational test. Soldiers, sailors and airmen from multiple combatant commands operated the systems and were provided a unique opportunity to refine operational doctrine and tactics. Program officials continue to assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have completed 56 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 71 flight test attempts since 2001.

Story provided by the Missile Defense Agency

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