The Aegis-equipped cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70) successfully launched a
Standard Missile (SM)-3 with a cooperatively engineered, experimental nosecone.
The experimental nosecone is the result of joint cooperative research by the
Missile Defense Agency, Japan Defense Agency (JDA) and US and Japanese industry.
Lockheed Martin, as the US Navy's combat systems engineering agent for the Aegis
Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System, provided the system engineering to
integrate the experimental Raytheon SM-3 missile configuration into the Aegis
BMD Weapon System.
The test, Joint Control Test Vehicle-1 (JCTV-1), was the first flight test of
the experimental nosecone. In the standard SM-3 configuration, the missile must
maneuver to eject the nosecone, uncovering the exoatomospheric kill vehicle,
which is then deployed to intercept the target. In the experimental
configuration, the nosecone opens like a clam shell to more quickly uncover and
release the kill vehicle without any missile maneuvers. The flight test mission
objectives included evaluation of the advanced nosecone design and
characterization of the Aegis BMD Weapon System's performance using this design.
The MDA and the U.S. Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the United
States' Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Ultimately 15 US Navy Aegis
destroyers and three Aegis cruisers will be outfitted with the capability to
conduct Long Range Surveillance and Tracking (LRS&T) and engagement of short and
medium range ballistic missile threats using the Aegis BMD Weapon System and its
SM-3 missile. To date, 11 Aegis destroyers have been upgraded with the LRS&T
capability and two Aegis cruisers have been outfitted with the emergency
engagement and LRS&T capability.
Japan is modifying the first of up to four Kongo-class Aegis-equipped destroyers
with the Aegis BMD system.
The Aegis Weapon System is the world's premier naval surface defense system and
is the foundation for Aegis BMD, the primary component of the sea-based element
of US BMDS. Aegis BMD seamlessly integrates new capabilities of the SPY-1 radar,
the MK 41 Vertical Launching System and adds the SM-3 missile into the existing
Aegis Weapon System's command and control system. Aegis BMD is also integrated
with BMDS, receiving cues from and providing cueing information to other BMDS
The Aegis Weapon System is currently deployed on more than 77 ships around the
globe with more than 25 more ships planned. In addition to the US, Aegis is the
maritime weapon system of choice for Japan, South Korea, Norway and Spain.
Recently, Australia selected Aegis for its new Air Warfare Destroyer program.
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