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25 February 2005

Defense Department Report, February 25: Missile Defense Update

Missile Defense Agency says its theater test worked as planned

The Missile Defense Agency announced the successful test of its ballistic missile defense technology on February 24.

The agency said this was the fifth successful interceptor test result out of six attempts.  A Navy Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) was launched from a Ticonderoga-class cruiser equipped with the Aegis combat system in the Pacific Ocean February 24. The SM-3 successfully intercepted a short-range ballistic missile launched from a missile test range in Kauai, 160 kilometers away in Hawaii.

The test successfully demonstrated the hit-to-kill technology that is required for the theater ballistic component of the broader, layered missile defense program.  The SM-3 is designed to destroy hostile short- to medium-range ballistic missiles.

In his February 17 testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Navy Secretary Gordon England said a viable regional and terminal sea-based ballistic missile defense system is important to ensure the protection of U.S. forces when they are required to pass through foreign ports and airfields.  “Sea-based missile defense can also allow us to assist allies and friends while at the same time deterring coercion and threats,” he said.  Ten SM-3 missiles are scheduled for deployment on navy ships by the end of the year and another 20 by 2007.

An MDA fact sheet on the Aegis ballistic missile program may be viewed at http://www.acq.osd.mil/mda/mdalink/pdf/aegis.pdf

Additional information about the overall missile defense program is available on the Internet at http://www.acq.osd.mil/mda/mdalink/html/mdalink.html