Another key component of the Euro defence shield fell into place over the Pacific yesterday.
The Standard Missile-3 Interceptor (SM-3) rocket is a key part to the Aegis Ballistic Missile defence (BMD) system being deployed on many of the U.S. Navy’s ships, and its most recent test yesterday was a total success according to a naval release.
In December the Navy deployed four Aegis combat systems to Spain to serve as part of the shield, much to Russia’s displeasure.
It’s not the shield in general so much as the SM-3 specifically that has Moscow up in arms. The Kremlin sees this new rocket as a direct threat to its long-range nuclear deterrent. This is the same missile that the U.S. said it may offer Russia key details about to assuage Kremlin concern.
The U.S. Navy and the Missile defence Agency launched the rocket from Kauai, Hawaii where it was tracked by the USS Lake Erie to a successful intercept using its impact only “kinetic warhead”.
From the Navy:
Aegis BMD 4.0.1 and the SM-3 Block IB interceptor improve the system’s ability to engage increasingly longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles that may be launched in larger raid sizes. The SM-3 Block IB interceptor features a two-colour infrared seeker, which improves sensitivity for longer-range target acquisition and high-speed processing for target discrimination. The SM-3 Block IB interceptor also features an upgraded onboard signal processor and a more flexible throttleable divert and attitude control system to manoeuvre the IB interceptor to intercept.
Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. Program officials will conduct an extensive assessment and evaluation of system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
The White House expects the SM-3s to be in the field by 2018.
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