MDA and USN report successful Aegis test against advanced countermeasure missile target

by Michael Fabey

The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex conducted a successful ballistic missile defence test. (US Army)

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and US Navy (USN) successfully demonstrated that the Aegis Weapon System can track and discriminate a medium-range ballistic missile target with countermeasures during a complex target scene, the MDA confirmed on 8 February.

The MDA also confirmed the successful execution of Flight Test Other-23 (FTX-23) or Stellar Sisyphus, a two-part developmental test of sensor tracking and communications link capabilities.

The first part of the multisensor test conducted off the coast of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, successfully demonstrated the tracking and discrimination of the target missile, the MDA said.

The second part of the test included the firing of a 3 Block IIA Standard Missile (SM-3 Blk IIA), which intercepted the same medium-range ballistic missile target, “verifying additional functionality of the SM-3 Blk IIA”, the MDA said.

Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Jack H Lucas


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EU launches new naval mission to protect naval shipping in Red Sea

by Kate Tringham

The German Navy's Type 124 Sachsen-class air-defence frigate FGS Hessen (F 221) departs Wilhelmshaven, bound for the Red Sea, on 8 February. (Bundeswehr/Julia Kelm)

The European Union (EU) has officially launched its new maritime operation to protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels.

The new mission, dubbed Operation ‘Aspides', was inaugurated on 19 February with the aim of providing EU naval presence to help restore and protect freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, where Houthi rebels have been attacking commercial shipping with unmanned systems and rockets since October 2023.

“With the launch of EUNAVFOR [EU Naval Force] ‘Aspides', the European Union is responding swiftly to the necessity to restore maritime security and freedom of navigation in a highly strategic maritime corridor,” said Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “The operation will play a key role in safeguarding commercial and security interests, for the sake of the EU and the wider international community.”

Headquartered in Larissa, the operation will be led by Greek Commodore Vasilios Griparis, with Italian Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino serving as force commander.


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US Coast Guard establishes Polar Coordination Office

by Michael Fabey

The US Coast Guard operates US icebreakers such as Coast Guard Cutter Healy . (Janes/Michael Fabey)

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has established a Polar Coordination Office (CG-PCO) under the USCG Director of Marine Transportation Systems (CG-5PW), the service confirmed on 20 February.

CG-PCO was stood up as an office on 4 July 2023 and reached initial operating capability (IOC) on 7 November 2023.

Office duties include developing USCG Arctic and Antarctic strategy and policy, the service said in its official establishment notice.

That work includes supporting the “execution of these through unified messaging and co-ordinated engagements within the coastguard and across interagency and international fora in conjunction with … other offices and operational commands as appropriate”, the USCG said.

The USCG operates the country's only icebreakers, such as Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20), and provides most of the naval operational assets for the polar regions.

CG-PCO will co-ordinate across the “polar enterprise” at USCG headquarters and across the operational areas on both polar policy and strategic issues, the USCG said.


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Australia to expand surface combatant fleet

by Jon Grevatt & Andrew MacDonald

An artist's impression of the future Hunter-class frigate for the Royal Australian Navy. Canberra has announced plans to reduce its procurement of nine of the type to six. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian government has announced a major expansion of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) surface combatant fleet. Under plans announced on 20 February in response to an independent review of RAN surface combatant capability, Defence Minister Richard Marles said the RAN will more than double the size of its warship fleet to meet future strategic challenges.

According to the Australian Department of Defence (DoD), the RAN's future surface combatant fleet will comprise 26 major warships including nine ‘Tier 1' surface combatants – three existing Hobart-class air warfare destroyers with upgraded air-defence and strike capabilities, and six (instead of nine planned) Hunter-class frigates to be built by BAE Systems.

The plans also include the procurement of 17 ‘Tier 2' surface combatants. These comprise up to 11 general-purpose frigates that will provide “maritime and land strike, air-defence and escort capabilities” and six new Large Optionally Crewed Surface Vessels (LOSVs) with 32 vertical launching system cells that will “significantly increase [the RAN's] long-range strike capacity”, the DoD said.


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The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and US Navy (USN) successfully demonstrated that the Aegis Weapon S...

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