Best of Both Worlds for Aegis BMD

MDA test marks first time Aegis uses information from satellites to track, intercept target
 

Aegis BMD For the 10th time in three years, the USS Lake Erie, shown in a file photo, successfully performed at-sea operations against cruise and ballistic missile targets using the Aegis BMD system when it recently used remote tracking information provided by satellites to intercept a medium range unitary ballistic missile target for the first time. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy.

In business, time is money. When it comes to missile defense, time is even more valuable.

The sooner an attack is detected the better the chances it can be destroyed. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) took a giant step in shaving that detection time on Feb. 13 when the USS Lake Erie’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system used remote tracking information provided by satellites to intercept a medium range unitary ballistic missile target for the first time.

After receiving information from space tracking and surveillance systems satellites integrated through Lockheed Martin’s Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC), the Lake Erie launched a Standard Missile-3 Block IA missile before its SPY-1 radar detected the target. The ship’s Aegis system, also developed by Lockheed Martin, guided the missile using information from the satellites until the target was detected and tracked by the SPY-1 radar.

“Aegis has achieved many firsts, but using accurate tracking information from a satellite to flexibly enable the capabilities of the sea-based Aegis BMD system may prove to be one of the program’s most significant milestones,” said Nick Bucci, Lockheed Martin’s director of BMD development. “For a long time, many have believed the best path forward for missile defense is an architecture that combines flexible sea-based defenses with persistent space-based capabilities. This test proves that technology and that architecture can be a reality.”

The test off the Hawaiian coast marks the 10th time in three years that the Lake Erie and her crew have successfully performed at-sea operations against cruise and ballistic missile targets using the second-generation Aegis BMD system.

Aegis BMD’s recently upgraded signal processor enables the Navy to defeat more sophisticated ballistic missile threats using improved target identification capabilities.

The MDA and the Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the U.S.’s BMD System. The Navy has 26 Aegis BMD-equipped warships, with the number expected to increase to 32 by 2014.

Posted on February 13, 2013