MDA Tracking Test Marshals Sensors in the Air, at Sea and in Space

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Missile Defense Agency sensors at sea, in the air and in space were trained on a ballistic missile target during a nonintercept test that was conducted Oct. 16, the agency said in an Oct. 17 press release.

For the test, a medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, at 9:08 p.m. local time. The U.S. Navy’s USS John Paul Jones, which is equipped with the Aegis Weapon System, detected and tracked the missile with an AN/SPY-1 radar, but did not fire a Standard Missile (SM)-3 interceptor.

The test focused on other fire control, discrimination and engagement functions for the sea-based system, the release said. The Sea-Based X-band Radar and Space Tracking and Surveillance System demonstrator satellites also were used in the test, as was an unmanned aircraft equipped with a multispectral sensor, the MDA said.

The unmanned aircraft component of the test was designed to demonstrate that the Aegis Weapon System equipped with SM-3 interceptors can engage and destroy a target based solely on tracking data from remote airborne sensors, the MDA said.

Results from the test are designed to improve the second phase of the Phased Adaptive Approach for European missile defense, which is slated for implementation by the end of 2015. Under current Phase 2 plans, U.S. Aegis ships operating in the Mediterranean and currently equipped with SM-3 Block 1A interceptors would be outfitted with more capable SM-3 Block 1B interceptors, which also are slated for installation on land in Romania.