SM-3 Block 1B Missile Interceptor Passes Test, Nears Full-Production

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 4, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

The Pentagon on Thursday con­duc­ted a suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion­al flight test of the Stand­ard Mis­sile 3 Block 1B mis­sile in­ter­cept­or — the suc­cess of which means the Pentagon is get­ting closer to giv­ing the or­der to start full-scale pro­duc­tion of the weapon.

De­fense De­part­ment plans call for Block 1B in­ter­cept­ors to be fielded in Ro­mania in 2015 and in Po­land in 2018 as part of the United States’ con­tri­bu­tion to NATO’s bal­list­ic mis­sile shield.

The de­fens­ive weapon also is ex­pec­ted to be fielded throughout the coun­try’s fleet of 28 Ae­gis-equipped war­ships and on Ja­pan’s fleet of four Ae­gis mis­sile des­troy­ers, ac­cord­ing to a Mis­sile De­fense Ad­vocacy Al­li­ance press re­lease.

The or­der to be­gin “sus­tained pro­duc­tion” of the in­ter­cept­or will not be giv­en un­til after a com­pre­hens­ive two-month as­sess­ment has been com­pleted of the data col­lec­ted from Thursday’s in­ter­cept test, U.S. Mis­sile De­fense Agency spokes­man Richard Lehner said in a Fri­day e-mail.

The test in­volved the in­ter­cep­tion of a me­di­um-range dummy bal­list­ic mis­sile. The tar­get was fired from the Pa­cific Mis­sile Range Fa­cil­ity on the is­land of Kauai in Hawaii around 7:30 loc­al time. After pick­ing up and mon­it­or­ing the tar­get’s flight path us­ing a ship­board radar, the USS Lake Erie launched a Block 1B against the dummy mis­sile, which was elim­in­ated by a hit-to-kill war­head re­leased by the in­ter­cept­or, ac­cord­ing to a Pentagon press re­lease.

This week’s test comes shortly after an­oth­er suc­cess­ful Block 1B in­ter­cept tri­al in Septem­ber.

The in­ter­cept­or is de­signed to counter short-, me­di­um-, and in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­list­ic mis­siles dur­ing the mid­course phase of their flight. The Pentagon has already ordered 67 Block 1B mis­siles from weapons de­veloper Ray­theon, Lehner said.

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