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US test launches anti-ballistic missile over Pacific as part of its European Shield plans

December 11, 2015, 8:30 UTC+3
A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) was test-fired from a military site in Hawaii's Kauai to intercept an air-launched dummy ballistic missile
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SM-3 missile launch (archive)

SM-3 missile launch (archive)

© EPA/US NAVY - HANDOUT

WASHINGTON, December 11. /TASS/. The United States carried out a test launch on Thursday of an SM-3 missile, which was the first to be test-fired from an ashore site to intercept a ballistic missile of an intended enemy, as part of the country’s mooted missile shield plan in Europe, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said in a statement.

"The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Ballistic Missile Defense System [BMDS] Operational Test Agency, in conjunction with US Pacific Command, US European Command, and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, successfully conducted the first intercept flight test today… of a land-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense [BMD] weapon system and Standard Missile [SM]-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile, launched from…, Kauai, Hawaii," the statement said in its opening sentence.

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) was test-fired from a military site in Hawaii's Kauai to intercept an air-launched dummy ballistic missile, which was on its target-intended course over the Pacific Ocean.

"During the test, a target representing a medium-range ballistic missile was air-launched from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft over the broad ocean area southwest of Hawaii…. The SM-3’s kinetic warhead acquired the target reentry vehicle, diverted into its path, and destroyed the target using the kinetic force of a direct impact," the statement added.

"The primary purpose of the test, designated Flight Test Operational-02 Event 1a, was to assess the operational effectiveness of the Aegis Ashore capability as part of a larger BMDS architecture," the US MDA statement said. "Aegis Ashore uses a nearly identical configuration of the Vertical Launch System, fire control system, and SPY-1 radar currently in use aboard Aegis BMD cruisers and destroyers deployed at sea around the world."

The MDA quoted its director, Vice Admiral James D. Syring, as saying in the statement, "Today's test demonstrated that the same Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capability that has been fielded at sea and operational for years, will soon be operational ashore as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) Phase 2 capability in Romania."

"I am very proud of the tremendous effort by the entire government/industry team in executing this vitally important mission for our Nation and our allies," Syring was quoted as saying.

This was the first trial of a ground-based missile launch to intercept a ballistic missile under Washington’s mooted European shield program.

The United States for the first time held tests under the European missile defense program in October. In a joint exercise with NATO allies it destroyed a dummy ballistic missile over the northern Atlantic.

The commander of the US naval forces in Europe and North Africa, Admiral Mark Furguson, said at that time that the exercise demonstrated the United States’ readiness to protect Europe with ships armed with the Aegis missile defense system.

Russia and US-led NATO have been in a long dispute over US missile shield plans in Europe, which the United States said was aimed to defend its allies from possible missile threats emerging from Iran and North Korea.

Russia viewed the deployment of the missile shield near its borders as a threat to its national security and in 2011 then-President Dmitry Medvedev announced a set of measures to counter the US-proposed missile defense system in Europe. The measures particularly included the construction of new air-defense radar systems and deployment of Iskander missiles in Russia’s Kaliningrad Region, which borders on Europe.

Infographics US missile defense system and NATO European Missile Defense System US missile defense system and NATO European Missile Defense System

The US has announced plans to reject the deployment of the fourth stage of the missile defense system in Europe and to refocus towards protection against potential North Korea missile attacks. Infographics by TASS

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