The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has successfully conducted its largest and most complex missile defense flight test ever, involving the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.
The test in the western Pacific this week “stressed the performance of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), THAAD, and PATRIOT weapon systems,” the agency said on Thursday.
The targets included one medium-range ballistic missile, two short-range ballistic missiles and two cruise missiles.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic target while PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) near simultaneously destroyed a short range ballistic missile and a low flying cruise missile target.
The Aegis system aboard the USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, successfully intercepted a cruise missile over water but apparently failed to destroy a short-range ballistic missile with an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor.
Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have completed 56 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 71 flight test attempts since 2001, the MDA said.
All three tested missile defense systems are expected to become part of the planned US missile shield in Europe by 2020, apart from protecting the continental part of the United States and vital US assets in other regions of the world.