US Successfully Intercepts IRBM Target in SM-3 IIA Test

On December 11, the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency conducted an SM-3 Block IIA intercept test from an Aegis Ashore facility at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. The SM-3 IIA successfully intercepted an IRBM target launched by a USAF C-17 thousands of kilometers southwest of the Aegis Ashore site. An MDA press release following the test detailed the use of a “ground, air and space-based sensor/command and control architecture linked by the [C2BMC] suite.” According to MDA spokesman Mark Wright, the Aegis Ashore system employed Engage on Remote (EoR), meaning the SM-3 IIA successfully locked onto the target using track data from a non-native (“inorganic”) sensor. Wright said the Aegis Ashore never had a native track on the incoming missile.

MDA director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said the test “demonstrated the effectiveness of the European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase 3 architecture” and that it marks a “critical initial production acquisition milestone” for the SM-3 Block IIA program. This successful intercept follows a similarly successful October test, marking the third successful intercept test for the SM-3 Block IIA out of five total attempts.