Naval Weapons

Japan, US successfully conduct BMD intercept flight test from JS Atago

13 September 2018

What the US MDA referred to as “a simple separating, ballistic missile target” is seen here being launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii on 11 September as part of a BMD intercept flight test involving Japanese guided-missile destroyer JS Atago. Source: US Missile Defense Agency

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully carried out an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) intercept flight test from Japanese guided-missile destroyer JS Atago (DDG 177) off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii on 11 September.

Designated the Japan Flight Test Mission-05 (JFTM-05), the event, which was carried out in co-operation with the US Navy, “verified the newest BMD engagement capability of the Japan (J6) Aegis BMD configuration” using a Standard Missile-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade (SM-3 Blk IB TU) interceptor, said the MDA in a statement, describing the JFTM-05 as “a significant milestone in the growing co-operation between Japan and the US in the area of missile defence”.

“At approximately 10.37 pm [local time] on September 11, 2018, a simple separating, ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii,” the MDA said. “JS Atago crew members detected and tracked the target. The Aegis Weapon System then developed a fire-control solution and a Standard Missile-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade missile was launched. The SM-3 successfully intercepted the target above the Pacific Ocean.”

MDA Director Lieutenant General Sam Greaves was quoted as saying, “This successful test is a major milestone verifying the capabilities of an upgraded Aegis BMD configuration for Japan’s destroyers.” He added that this “provides confidence in the future capability for Japan to defeat the developing threats in the region”.

The test was carried out two weeks after Tokyo said in its 2018 defence White Paper that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities remain a serious threat to Japan’s security. “Since 2016 North Korea has wilfully conducted three nuclear tests and launched as many as 40 ballistic missiles. These military trends … pose an unprecedentedly serious and imminent threat to Japan’s security, and significantly damage the peace and security of the region and the international community,” said the White Paper, which was released by the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) on 28 August.

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