A Standard MS-3 missile is launched from the guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn, Nov. 16, 2020, in the Pacific Ocean as part of Flight Test Aegis Weapons System-44. (U.S. Navy photo.)

In a test sure to send shock waves around the world to America’s military rivals, a US Navy destroyer shot down an incoming ICBM missile mimicking a North Korean attack, the Department of Defense announced.

The US Missile Defense Agency and the USS John Finn — an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System-equipped destroyer — intercepted and destroyed a threat-representative Intercontinental Ballistic Missile target with a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile during a flight test demonstration in the ocean northeast of Hawaii, on Nov. 16.

“This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program,” said MDA Director, Vice Admiral Jon Hill.

“The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat. 

“We have demonstrated that an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel equipped with the SM-3 Block IIA missile can defeat an ICBM-class target, which is a step in the process of determining its feasibility as part of an architecture for layered defense of the homeland.” 

At approximately 7:50 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time, the ICBM target was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, toward a ocean area northeast of Hawaii, the DoD press release reported. 

In this developmental test, the destroyer used engage-on-remote capabilities through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications (C2BMC) network as part of a defense of Hawaii scenario. 

After receiving tracking data from the C2BMC system, the destroyer launched a SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which destroyed the target.

“This first-of-its-kind test shows that our nation has a viable option for a new layer of defense against long-range threats,” said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

Raytheon sensors were also part of the historic test from low-earth orbit. The sensors detected and tracked the target and relayed the data to decision makers.

Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test, the DoD press release reported.

This event, designated Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-44 (FTM-44), was the sixth flight test of an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel using the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile.

Co-developed with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the SM-3 Block IIA was originally designed and built for the Intermediate-range Ballistic Missile threat set.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Weapons System is the naval component of the US Missile Defense System, the DoD press release reported. 

The MDA and the US Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD system.

Aegis BMD ships (and Aegis Ashore) receive track data via the C2BMC system, build the fire control solutions, then launch and guide the SM-3 family of missiles to destroy incoming threats.

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