During an unprecedented test today, Lockheed Martin's (NYSE:LMT) Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Weapon System successfully intercepted and destroyed two non-separating, short range ballistic missile targets nearly simultaneously.
This test marks the first successful attempt by any United States ballistic missile defense system at dual exo-atmospheric intercepts. The test also represents the Aegis BMD system's 10th and 11th successful ballistic missile intercepts in 13 attempts.
In today's test, the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie, an Aegis BMD cruiser equipped with the latest U.S. Navy-certified version of the Aegis BMD Weapon System (Aegis BMD 3.6), successfully guided two SM-3 Block IA missiles to intercept two ballistic missile targets outside the Earth's atmosphere.
The Japanese guided missile destroyer JS Kongo also participated in the test to detect, track and conduct a simulated engagement of the ballistic missile targets using its newly-installed Aegis BMD Weapon System. Kongo will be the first ship in Japan's fleet to have a sea-based BMD capability. This destroyer is scheduled to conduct Japan's first firing flight test in late 2007.
"With two targets engaged simultaneously, both the system and crew are under additional stress and today they performed flawlessly," said Orlando Carvalho, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Surface-Sea Based Missile Defense line of business. "With Aegis, we build a little, test a little and learn a lot. Today's test is the twelfth planned flight mission to methodically and incrementally fully verify the Aegis BMD capability. It is this rigorous engineering and test philosophy that is giving our nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System the edge it needs to deter and defeat ballistic missile threats."
The MDA and the U.S. Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the United States' Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Currently, nine U.S. Navy Aegis-equipped warships have the ability to conduct long range search and track and engage ballistic missiles. Another seven Aegis warships are equipped with Aegis BMD long range surveillance and track capability. Ultimately 15 Aegis destroyers and three Aegis cruisers will be outfitted with the ability to engage short to intermediate range ballistic missile threats and support other BMDS engagements using the Aegis BMD Weapon System and the SM-3. Japan has purchased Aegis BMD capability for their Kongo-class Aegis destroyers.
The Aegis Weapon System is the world's premier naval surface defense system and is the foundation for Aegis BMD, a primary component of the sea- based element of the United States' BMDS. Lockheed Martin has provided the systems engineering for a highly integrated systems capability which starts with BMDS requirements and completes with the ability of the crew to execute highly realistic flight test missions of the system. Individual elements of this system are modified to perform ballistic missile defense functions based on system requirements derived from BMDS requirements by Lockheed Martin's engineering staff. These elements include AN/SPY-1 radar, weapons control, command and decision, MK 41 Vertical Launch System, and SM-3 Block IA missiles. The Aegis BMD Weapon System also integrates with the BMDS, receiving track data from and providing track information to other BMDS elements.
The Aegis Weapon System is currently deployed on 83 ships around the globe with more than 20 additional ships planned or under contract. In addition to the U.S., and Japan, Aegis is the maritime weapon system of choice for South Korea, Norway, Spain and Australia. Japan began installation of Aegis BMD in its Kongo-class Aegis destroyers in 2006.
Lockheed Martin is a world leader in systems integration and the development of air and missile defense systems and technologies, including the first operational hit-to-kill missile defense system, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3). It also has considerable experience in interceptor systems, kill vehicles, battle management command, control and communications, precision pointing and tracking optics, as well as radar and other sensors that enable signal processing and data fusion. The company makes significant contributions to nearly all major U.S. Missile Defense Systems and participates in several global missile defense partnerships.
Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Lockheed Martin employs more than 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.