US Missile Defense Agency, Raytheon perform intercept with SM-3 Block IIA

12 December 2018

The US Missile Defense Agency said on 11 December that it intercepted an IRBM target with an Aegis Ashore-launched SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. Source: US MDA

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Raytheon on 11 December intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) target with an Aegis Ashore-launched Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor.

This was an operational live-fire test demonstrating the Aegis Weapon System Engage On Remote capability. The test consisted of an IRBM target air-launched by a US Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III "thousands of kilometres" southwest of the Aegis Ashore test site in Hawaii that launched the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. The engagement leveraged a ground, air, and space-based sensor/command-and-control (C2) architecture linked by the Ballistic Missile Defense System's (BMDS') Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) suite, according to the MDA.

Raytheon's AN/TPY-2 radar served as a remote sensor, tracking and providing the missile with data of the incoming threat, instead of using the phased-array connected to the Aegis Ashore system. Bryan Rosselli, Raytheon vice president of mission systems and sensors, said on 11 December that the AN/TPY-2 was exercised remotely and tasked through the C2BMC. He also said that remote tasking was able to autonomously acquire the target complex through its surge fences without additional direction.

After tracking the threat complex, Rosselli said the radar performed discrimination as tasked by the C2BMC system, back into the BMDS system, to exercise the engage-on-remote functionality. The radar, after initially acquiring, tracking, discriminating, and sending the information, tracked the target all the way through the field of view, ending with the command of the SM-3 launch. Raytheon said the AN/TPY-2 radar was located on an island in the South Pacific but declined to specify further.

Raytheon said the test achieved three firsts for the Block IIA variant: intercept from a land-based launch, intercept of an IRBM target, and using tracking data from remote sensors, known as engage-on-remote.

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