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US Navy Certifies Latest Version Of Aegis Missile Defense System

Aegis weapon system.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Sep 19, 2006
The U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency have certified the latest version of the Lockheed Martin-developed Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. The move, which was announced by Lockheed Martin on Sep 11, means that the upgraded Aegis BMD Weapon System, version BMD 3.6 has been approved for tactical deployment by the Navy.

Lockheed Marin said in a statement that the Aegis BMD 3.6 "enhances the ballistic missile defense capabilities of the current Aegis BMD fleet, adds capability in other warfare areas and brings the BMD mission to additional destroyers and cruisers."

"It is my belief that in the future the national command authority will ask where the Aegis ballistic missile defense ships are," said Rear Adm. Alan Hicks, program director of Aegis BMD. "This certification is a vote of confidence that resonates from the Sailors operating these ships to the President, who will rely on Aegis BMD's performance."

The Aegis BMD system "first went to sea with an initial Long Range Surveillance and Track capability in Sepember 2004," Lockheed Martin said. So far, the Aegis BMD has achieved seven ballistic missile intercepts "and nearly a dozen successful ballistic missile defense system tracking tests," the company said.

The newly certified version, Aegis BMD 3.6 and the SM-3 Block IA missile went through a series of evaluations and demonstrations leading up to certification, Lockheed Martin said. "The most prominent demonstration of Aegis BMD 3.6's capability was the June 2006 Stellar Predator Campaign which included an intercept of a ballistic missile target's separating warhead in a test at the Pacific Missile Range Facility," it said.

"During the test, the Aegis SPY-1B radar aboard USS Shiloh provided real-time detection, tracking, target discrimination and engagement processing to launch the SM-3," the Lockheed Martin statement said. "The Aegis BMD Weapon System continued to track the target and provide guidance information to the SM-3 to intercept the target. Other features of the weapon system were also demonstrated in the campaign including some self defense against air targets in clear and jamming environments."

"System engineering excellence continues to be the hallmark of the Aegis program," said Orlando Carvalho, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Surface-Sea Based Missile Defense line of business. "This certification is the latest testament to that engineering excellence."

THAAD fails in Hera intercept test

The U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system suffered a test failure last week after a long series of successes.

"On Sep 13, a target missile supporting a planned intercept test for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system experienced a malfunction shortly after it was launched and was destroyed by range safety officials at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico," the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said in a statement. ."The THAAD interceptor missile was not launched and will be used for a future test."

Following standard procedure, "an extensive review is taking place to determine the cause of the target failure, and this will take several weeks," the MDA said.

The Hera missile launched as a THAAD target in the Sep 13 test was "assembled by Coleman Research of Orlando, Florida, and consisted of surplus second and third stage rocket motors previously used for the U.S. Air Force's Minuteman II strategic missile, all of which have been retired from active service.," the MDA said

"It is extremely cost-effective to use surplus and retired rocket motors rather than buying new motors. Even though the rocket motors used for the most recent Hera launch were approximately 40 years old, they remain extremely reliable and have an excellent record of performance," the agency said.

The MDA said the target failure had had "no impact" on the agency's high level of confidence in Coleman Research, Northrop Grumman or any of the other companies involved in the THAAD testing program. "The companies have all provided reliable and effective rocket motors for missile defense tests and will continue to do so," the agency said..

The MDA noted that the setback followed a remarkable run of test successes for the program. Some 86 target missiles have been launched since January, 2000 and only one test failed. "This occurred in 2001 during a target-only test due to a range communication issue," the MDA said.

On Aug. 29, BMD Watch reported that the MDA is speeding up the testing and fielding of THAAD to get it into service by 2010 two years ahead of schedule to be deployed worldwide in fiscal year 2012

Russia's Bulava fails in Arctic test launch

Russian officials have told the Interfax-AVN news agency that a test launch of the submarine-launched Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month was a failure.

The Bulava was fired Sep 7 from a strategic nuclear submarine from a submerged position but the test was a failure, Interfax-AVN said. The news agency cited "a source close to the test commission" for its information.

"It was the second launch of a Bulava missile from a submerged position and ended in a failure unlike the first one," the source told Interfax-AVN. The Bulava's final stage plunged into the Arctic Ocean only a few minutes after the missile was fired by the Northern Fleet submarine Dmitry Donskoi, he said.

The Dmitry Donskoi carried out its first two test launches of Bulavas in 2005, firing one of the missiles from a surface position in Sepember and the other from a submerged position in December, Interfax-AVN said. The Bulava can carry up to nuclear warheads and it has a range of 4,800 miles, the agency said.

Source: United Press International

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Raytheon-SAIC Team Selected For NATO Theater BMD Work
Tucson AZ (SPX) Sep 19, 2006
Two businesses of Raytheon Company are part of a multinational team selected as the preferred bidder to support the integration of the NATO Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD). The estimated value of the work is $95 million. Most of the work will be performed in the Netherlands with the participation of Raytheon Missile Systems and ThalesRaytheonSystems.

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