With Successful Test-Firing Of SM-3 Missile US Inches Closer To Advanced Defense Against Ballistic Missiles Attacks

Alap Naik Desai

The United States on Wednesday announced the first live-fire test of a Raytheon Co SM-3 missile from the land-based version of Lockheed Martin Corp's Aegis missile defense system.

The successful test–fire of the SM-3 Missile takes it one–step closer to deployment of the same in Romania next year. As a highlight of the test setup, Lockheed said it was the first test of the Aegis system using a land-based missile launcher, reported Executive Gov.

This test was quite critical for the Aegis Ashore weapon system with the SM-3 Missiles as it is going to be the first line of defense for the US and NATO Forces against strategic ballistic missile attacks. The test was conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii late on Tuesday.

During the test, the Aegis system, that is commonly used on U.S. warships around the world, detected, tracked, and engaged a simulated ballistic missile target using Raytheon's Standard Missile 3 Block IB or SM–3, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the companies.

The SM–3 Missile based system is one of the most cost–effective systems, according to Riki Ellison, founder of the non-profit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance: "The test means NATO's missile defense shield, developed at a cost of around $800 Million is becoming a reality."

"The Aegis missile defense system has achieved 28 successful test intercepts over the past 11 years," added Ellison.

Defense against ballistic missiles has always been on high priority for the United States as well as NATO forces as enemies have always had an escalated interest in sensitive establishments. Raytheon said an intercept flight test of the system would follow next year. It said the ability to use the SM-3 missile at sea and on land would give military commanders much more flexibility and agility while defending high value locations, without spending much and ensuring a high level of automated protection, reported Reuters.

The easy to deploy, land-based system uses the same SM-3 missile deployed on Aegis warships, and holds 24 such SM-3 missiles at any given time. The system can also be easily expanded to hold more launchers and missiles. Thus the entire system is easily scalable to ensure highest operability.

The Aegis Ashore weapon system that will have the latest SM–3 Missiles in Romania will have the deckhouse, radar and vertical launch system. So far, none of the Missile Defense Systems have been so easy to ship and deploy, confirmed an official.

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