A medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, during Flight Test Standard Missile-27 Event 2 (FTM-27 E2) on Aug. 29 (HST). The target was successfully intercepted by SM-6 missiles fired from the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), one of the U.S. Navy’s Aegis-equipped destroyers tasked with missile defense, the Missile Defense Agency noted in a press release.
“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”
The test marks the second time that an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target.
Why it’s on our radar: The complexity involved in shooting down one missile with another cannot be overstated, but as North Korea continues to develop long-range ballistic missiles in conjunction with its nuclear weapons program, and with Iran most likely not far behind, improving this technology is vital in countering these threats.
To that end, the Pentagon is working with Israel’s missile defense experts in addition to improving its own ballistic missile defense technology, which includes fielding a more effective missile defense warhead by 2019.
While tests have been successful, we have to remember that they are staged, choreographed events. In a real scenario, U.S. missile defense systems would face potentially adverse atmospheric conditions, multiple warheads, decoys and other impediments. We have a long way to go before we develop a system that can successfully navigate and defeat those obstacles. And it may not even be a missile-based solution; the Pentagon is also ramping up development of laser technology to, among other things, defend against ballistic missiles.