The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, conducted Flight Test Aegis Weapon System 33 in the broad ocean area northwest of Hawaii, July 24. The objective of FTM-33 was to intercept a raid of two Short Range Ballistic Missile targets with four Standard Missile-6 Dual II missiles. Based on initial observations, one target was successfully intercepted.
FTM-33 was the most complex mission executed by MDA (a raid of two test targets and two SM-6 Dual II salvos consisting of four missiles). It was the third flight test of an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel using the SM-6 Dual II missile. FTM-33, originally scheduled for December 2020, was delayed due to restrictions in personnel and equipment movement intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon data obtained during the test. The firing ship for the test was the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114). The SM-6 Dual II missile is designed for use in the terminal phase of a short- to- medium-range ballistic missile trajectory.
The MDA is the section of the United States government’s Department of Defense responsible for developing a layered defense against ballistic missiles. It had its origins in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) which was established in 1983 by Ronald Reagan. The agency is partially or wholly responsible for the development of several ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems, including the Patriot PAC-3, Aegis BMD, THAAD and the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system.