Another success for the naval missile defense system

Targets and Countermeasures Team Completes Second Mission for MDA

A target missile built by Lockheed Martin and launched from Hawaii was successfully intercepted by the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie:

This test of the Aegis system demonstrated its preparedness in defending against short- and medium-range ballistic missile threats. The MDA and the U.S. Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors develops the Aegis BMD Weapon System and serves as the Combat System Engineering Agent for Aegis BMD.

“This mission demonstrated our teams’ integration and launch services capabilities that are important for realistic and rigorous testing of the Ballistic Missile Defense System,” said Jim Tevepaugh, program director, Targets and Countermeasures, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

The naval segment of the National Missile Defense system, which is keyed on the short and medium-range attacks, has been fairly successful. It’s too bad that the land-based system, which is responsible for the long-range ICBM attacks, has been far less so.


  1. I believe the US Navy has made some pretty dumb decisions of late, but there is a good reason why their ABM system is working so well. It is because it’s an evolutionary rather than revolutionary system. You can track the roots of the system back pretty much to the very first naval SAM system. The ‘Standard Missile’s are very much standard (although there are a lot of different ones; so not in that sense; rather in the sense that they use the same system in its various increments everywhere). Similarly, the Aegis system has been updated several times. The system which evolved into the one we’re seeing succesfully tested today was first introduced in 1966! It’s still pretty much the best in the world at what it does, due to continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is much cheaper and less risky because there are less unknowns. Having said all that, the land-based interceptors have a much harder job, so it’s not surprising if they’re having more problems. Still, they probably took too many technological risks. For example, is the rocket used to launch the interceptor a standard type which is well tested or did they build something entirely new? If it’s new, why re-invent the wheel? Was there a compelling reason? I guess I don’t have the answer to this question.

  2. You’ve made some good points in your post! I’ve been following the land based intercepter follies in the Armed Forces Journal for several years. It’s always something different, everytime they have a test failure……yet the result is the same. Seems like they’d have been better off evolving the Patriot System, for all the reasons you mention in your post. From what I’ve read, the land based High Energy Laser and Airborne Laser System have enjoyed quite a bit of testing success against ballistic missle threats so far. So there’s at least that.