Here’s a pic of the Standard missile that successfully intercepted a target missile yesterday:
Pacific Ocean (Nov. 17, 2005) – A Standard Missile Three (SM-3) is launched from the vertical launch system (VLS) aboard the Pearl Harbor based Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), during a joint Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Navy ballistic missile flight test. Minutes later, the SM-3 intercepted a separating ballistic missile threat target, launched form the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. The test was the sixth intercept, in seven flight tests, by the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, the maritime component of the “Hit to Kill” Ballistic Missile Defense System, being developed by the Missile Defense Agency. All previous Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense flight test were against unitary (non-separating) targets. U.S. Navy photo (Released)
Pic from Navy News Stand.
In a comment on yesterday’s post, Nicholas makes this great point about the Navy’s ABM system and why it’s been so successful so far:
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.
UPDATE: Here’s a pic of launch of the Lockheed Martin target missile from Hawaii:
Also from Navy News Stand.