Aegis Ashore Testing Progresses


05/22/2014: This video highlights the initial Aegis ashore test.

Credit Video: Missile Defense Agency:5/21/14

The Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Navy, and sailors at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex and Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), successfully conducted the first flight test involving components of the Aegis Ashore system.

According to a Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance Press Release dated 5/21/14:

Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii – May 20, 2014 — At 7:30 PM (HST), a missile defense interceptor SM-3 Block 1B was successfully launched from a land based Aegis Ashore Site in Barking Sands, Kauai marking history. This Aegis Ashore system is one year away from its full operational deployment in Romania to defend Europe against ballistic missiles.

The Aegis Ashore system was developed at a cost of $800 million and is manned by around 100 personnel. 

The test proved out three necessary important competencies toward deployment to Romania: 

  1.  The validation of communication from the Aegis Ashore site with constant persistency to the second and third stage of the launched SM-3 Block IB interceptor in its guidance for the best path towards the target. 
  2.  The validation of the accuracy of a “launch on remote” above ground interceptor site that is much further away from the Aegis Ashore site than it would be if the interceptors were on a Aegis BMD ship. 
  3.  The validation of the increased safety measures for the surrounding area and Pacific Missile Range Facility for the requirements of this interceptor and system to launch from an Aegis Ashore land  based site. 

The Aegis BMD system has had 28 successful test intercepts over the past 11 years, making it more reliable and capable than any other regional missile defense system deployed today. Placing the system on ground at a fixed site rather on water enhances 24/7 persistence, accuracy and communication, further increasing the interceptors’ capability to carry out their mission.

Moreover, being dedicated to the singular mission of missile defense permits the full use of its processing power and crew, as opposed to sharing the processor and crew tasks for multiple missions that a ship would be required to do.  

Finally, having “launch on remote” above ground interceptors exponentially increases quantitative and qualitative capability that would be limited on current Aegis Ballistic Missile Ship platforms performing this same mission.  

This system holds great promise for the future Integrated air and missile systems and the use of interceptors of all types and ranges both in space and in air with above ground land-based,  “launch on remote” format that could be placed in other regions around the world such as Japan and in the U.S. National Capital Region to deter a regional threat from air and space breathing ballistic or non ballistic missiles and platforms such as cruise missiles and UAVs.

As it deploys to Romania next year and to Poland in 2018, Aegis Ashore is a tremendous and critical asset for NATO to pursue its collective resolve to protect and defend Europe.