Aerial Warfare

Missile Defense Agency and US Navy Conducts Successful Intercept with SM-6

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Missile Defense Agency and US Navy Conducts Successful Intercept with SM-6

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Missile Defense Agency and US Navy Conducts Successful Intercept with SM-6
Missile Defense Agency and US Navy Conducts Successful Intercept with SM-6

On March 28, 2024, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, successfully conducted an intercept of an advanced Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) test target utilizing the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Dual II with Software Upgrade (SWUP). Known as Flight Test Aegis Weapon System (FTM) 32, or Stellar Laelaps, the test demonstrated the capability to detect, track, engage, and intercept an MRBM target in the terminal phase of flight culminating in a live intercept by an Aegis Baseline 9 equipped ship. Significantly, this test also represented the most robust participation in an Aegis test to date by U.S. ally Australia, who leveraged the event to demonstrate their own capabilities with participating air, land, and sea assets. In addition, USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), the first Flight III Aegis Destroyer equipped with SPY-6 radar, successfully participated in this critical event in support of its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation campaign.

“This was a unique opportunity to work closely with the U.S. MDA and U.S. Navy as they tested the Aegis Weapon System’s ability to detect, track and defend against short-to-medium range ballistic missiles, while we simultaneously observed the performance of our own systems. It is a great example of our deepening defence engagement with the U.S. and an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the Australian Defence Force’s interoperability with the U.S. Navy,” said Australian Defence Force Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, AO CSC.

“This successful intercept against an advanced threat-representative target in the final stages of flight demonstrated the power and flexibility of the Aegis Weapon System paired with the Standard Missile 6. MDA is very grateful and honored to have Australia participate in this important test and we look forward to further collaboration with them in the future as we work together with all of our allies to maintain deterrence in the Indo-Pacific,” said MDA Director Lieutenant General Heath Collins.

A Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Dual II with Software Upgrade (SWUP) is launched from the USS Preble (DDG 88) off the coast of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii as part of Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-32 (FTM-32), held March 28, 2024.
A Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Dual II with Software Upgrade (SWUP) is launched from the USS Preble (DDG 88) off the coast of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii as part of Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-32 (FTM-32), held March 28, 2024. (Photo by MDA)

Australia’s support included a demonstration of radar capabilities of the ANZAC Class frigate HMAS Stuart, together with an Australian E-7 Wedgetail aircraft assisting in data collection and communications. Australian sensors also provided target track data in support of a cued-organic simulated engagement, demonstrating allied interoperability. In addition to Australia achieving its objectives, their participation provided significant benefit in assisting the U.S. with redundancy for test telemetry collection. Through the collaboration, additional objectives were achieved that increased interoperability and integration between the two countries.

A complex test against a priority threat target, FTM-32 represented the fourth flight test of an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense-configured vessel using the upgraded SM-6 Dual II missile and the second Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) intercept of an MRBM target using the SM-6 Dual II SWUP missile. The test target was launched from PMRF, located on Kauai, Hawaii. USS Preble (DDG 88) launched the SM-6 Dual II missiles and successfully intercepted the MRBM test target. SM-6 delivers over-the-horizon, air defense capability and can perform Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) missions. The SM-6 Dual II SWUP missile is designed to defend against short-to-medium range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of flight.

 An advanced medium range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, as part of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-32 (FTM-32), held on March 28, 2024 in cooperation with the U.S. Navy.
An advanced medium range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, as part of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-32 (FTM-32), held on March 28, 2024 in cooperation with the U.S. Navy. (Photo by MDA)

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