Updated Table of Aegis Intercept Tests (September 20, 2013)

Here is an updated table of Aegis BMD intercept tests (see note below the table for how to view a much more readable version of the table).

Target Key: S = short-range, M = medium-range, IR = intermediate range, U = unitary (non-separating), Sp = separating

Click on the rectangular icon at the right (next to the plus and minus magnifiers) to get a much more readable version.

Successful Salvo Test of SM-3 Block IB Announced. (September 19, 2013)

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) yesterday announced that it had successfully conducted an intercept test of the Aegis SM-3 Block IB interceptor.  In the test, labeled FTM-21, two SM-3 Block IB interceptors  were salvo launched  (that is, sequentially launched against a single target) from the Aegis cruiser Lake Erie, equipped with the Aegis 4.0.2 system, at a short-range ballistic missile target with a separating warhead.  The first of the two interceptors reportedly hit and destroyed the target warhead.


Figure 1.  Illustration of FTM-21 (made prior to the test).  Image source: MDA

This was the first salvo test using two SM-3 interceptors.  In MDA’s previous intercept test, FTO-01 held on September 10, 2013, an SM-3 Block IA and a THAAD interceptor were salvo fired at a medium-range target.  In both tests, the first interceptor reportedly hit the target, leaving nothing for the second missile to intercept.

According to the MDA, in FTM-21 “…the target complex was the most difficult engaged to date.”  The target complex likely consists of at least the target warhead, the rocket booster, and debris associated with the warhead deployment.  Whether any Aegis target complex has included other objects deliberately released (such as decoys) has not been publicly revealed.

This was the fourth successful intercept attempt of the Block IB interceptor, following an initial failed intercept attempt on September 1, 2011.  The next Aegis test, FTM-22, is scheduled for later this year.  If this test, of an SM-3 Block IB interceptor against a medium-range target, is successful, full rate production of the SM-3 Block IB could begin.

Aegis BMD and Related Briefings (September 12, 2013)

As described in my post of September 10, I am now compiling collections of official briefings on missile defense topics in “Missile Defense Compilations” section of the blog.  This post includes briefings on Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and related topics:

Rear Admiral Jim Syring (Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare Systems, “Navy IAMD Capabilities,” July 12, 2012 (IAMD = Integrated Air and Missile Defense): 2012-7-SyringNavyAegis

Captain Brian Shipman (Aegis BMD Chief of Staff), “Aegis BMD Overview,” January 23, 2012: 2012-1Aegis_BMD_Overview_MAC_CAPT Shipman 23 AEGIS-Jan 12_ 2012-Shipman

Ms. Laura DeSimone (Deputy Program Executive, Aegis BMD), “Aegis BMD; The Way Ahead,” December 6, 2011: 2011-12AegisDeSimoneDec2011

Rear Admiral Joe Horn (Aegis BMD, MDA), “Aegis BMD Overview,” July 21, 2011:2011-7-Horn-SmallBusiness

Mr. Scott Perry (MDA), “Aegis BMD Update,” July 14, 2011: 2011-7-Aegis-Perry

Captain Mike Anderson (Aegis BMD Technical Director, MDA), “C4I Evolution,” February 11, 2011: 2011-2-Anderson

Rear Admiral Joe Horn (Aegis BMD Program Executive), “Aegis BMD Overview,” July 13, 2010: 2010-7-AegisBMDOverview-RDMLHorn

Vice Admiral J.T. Blake (Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Integration of Requirements and Resources), “Integrated Air and Missile Defense,” July 13, 2010: 2010-07-IAMD-Blake

Rear Admiral Alan B. Hicks (Aegis BMD Program Director), “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Overview,” August 3, 2009: 2009-8-AegisHicks

Rear Admiral Alan B. Hicks (Aegis BMD Program Director), “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Overview,” June 18, 2008: 2008-6-AegisNDIA_Hicks

MDA, “Aegis BMD – Status, Integration, and Interoperability,” May 6, 2008: 2008-5-AegisBMD-StatusIntergrationandInteroperability

Rear Admiral Alan B. Hicks (Aegis BMD Program Director), “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Overview,” November 28, 2007: 2007-11AegisHicks

MDA, “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense,” September 28, 2006: 2006-6-Aegis06282006

Rear Admiral A. Brad Hicks, “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System, December 19, 2005:  Link to briefing. 

MDA Announces Successful Test FTO-01 (September 11, 2013)

Yesterday the MDA announced the successful completion of test FTO-01.  As illustrated in Figure 1 below (made before the test), in this test, conducted on and near Kwajalein Atoll,  two medium-range ballistic missile targets were intercepted, one by an Aegis SM-3 Block 1A interceptor launched from an Aegis  cruiser and the other by a land-based THAAD interceptor.   In both intercepts, cuing from a TPY-2 X-band radar operating in its forward-based mode was used.  The MDA News Release described the test as an “operational” test that demonstrated a “layered defense architecture.”  The “layered defense architecture” here refers to the launch of a second THAAD interceptor that would have attempted to intercept the target hit by the SM-3 if the SM-3 had failed to destroy the target.  Since the SM-3 hit its target, this second THAAD interceptor did not attempt an intercept, although it likely collected some interesting data on the intercept scene.  


Figure 1.  The plan for test FTO-01.  From slide 17 of an August 14, 2013 briefing by MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring, available at: https://mostlymissiledefense.com/2013/09/10/mda-overview-briefings-september-10-2013/.

It is interesting to compare this test to the previous, arguably even more complex, combined test, FTI-01, held in October 2012.  This test is shown in Figure 2 below (from after the test).  In this test, five interceptors (two SM-3 Block IA, one THAAD, and two Patriot) attempted to intercept five ballistic missile or aircraft targets in one-on-one engagements (all apparently occurring within a short period of time.)


Figure 2.  Geometry of test FTI-01.  From briefing by MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring, February 22, 2013.  Available at: https://mostlymissiledefense.com/2013/09/10/mda-overview-briefings-september-10-2013/.

Unlike yesterday’s test, which was called an operational test, FTI-01 was described as a combined developmental-operational test (precisely why it was not a fully operational test is unclear to me).  The results of FTI-01 are shown in Figure 3 below.


Figure 3.  Results of FTI-01 (October 2012).  From briefing by MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring, February 22, 2013.  Available at: https://mostlymissiledefense.com/2013/09/10/mda-overview-briefings-september-10-2013/.

As shown in Figure 3, four of the five intercept attempts in FTI-01 succeeded (in the fifth, although shown on the slide as “not confirmed,” the intercept attempt failed).  The failed intercept in this test was the attempted intercept of a short-range ballistic missile by an Aegis SM-3 Block IA interceptor (as far as I know, the cause of this failure has not yet been publicly revealed – the MDA fact sheet on testing  (updated yesterday) still lists the failure as “pending investigation”).  It would have been interesting if this test had involved a THAAD backing up an SM-3 as was done for the first time in yesterday’s test – in the case  of TFI-01 the THAAD missile would have had a target to attempt to intercept.


MDA Overview Briefings (September 10, 2013)

In my post of June 26, 2013, I collected together a number of the publicly available “MDA Overview” type briefings.  It seems to me that it is worth doing such collections somewhat more systematically.  So I have created a new Category called “Missile Defense Compilations” (the “Category” listings are on the right side of the home page, after “Recent Posts” and “Archives”).  Today’s post is the first for this new category and is an expanded version of the June 16 collection of MDA Overview Briefings.  In this category I will also link to posts such as my one about Claims About GMD Effectiveness,  testing record compilations, and additional collections of briefings (Aegis BMD will be next).

Here are the MDA Overview type briefings, which will be updated as I come across additional briefings (if you have one I missed, please send it to me):

 MDA Director Vice Admiral J. D. Syring, August 2013: SyringAugust2013SMDC

MDA Program Executive for Advanced Technology Richard Matlock, August 2013: 2013-08-15-Matlock-AdvancedTechnology

MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring, February 2013: BMD-Update-Syring-February2013

MDA Deputy Director Rear Admiral Randall M. Hendrickson, August 14, 2012: BMD-Update-Hendrickson-August 2012

“U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense,” Moscow, May 2012: US-BMD-Moscow-May2012

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, March 2012: BMD-Update-O’Reilly-March 2012

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, August 2011: BMD-Overview-O’Reilly-August2011

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, September 2009: BMD-Overview-O’Reilly-September2009

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, May 2009: BMD-Update-O’Reilly-May 2009

MDA Director Lt. General Trey Obering, May 2008: OberingMay2008NDIA

MDA Executive Director Dr. Patricia Sanders, June 2007: BMD-Overview-Sanders-June2007

MDA Director Lt. General Trey Obering, March 2007: BMD-Overview-Obering-March 2007

MDA Deputy Director Brigadier General Patrick O’Reilly, January 2007: BMD-Overview-O’Reilly- January 2007