Friday, March 27, 2009

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Timely BMD Test: Aegis Downs 2 Missiles Off California

As North Korea nears the brink with the scheduled launch of its longest range ballistic missile, the Aegis destroyer USS Benfold achieved another first for US missile defense --- successful simultaneous intercepts of a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) and a cruise missile:
During the event, Benfold's Aegis Weapons System successfully detected and intercepted a cruise missile target with a SM-2 BLK IIIA, while simultaneously detecting and intercepting an incoming short range ballistic missile (SRBM) target with a modified SM-2 BLK IV. This is the first time the fleet has successfully tested the Aegis system's ability to intercept both an SRBM in terminal phase and a low-altitude cruise missile target at the same time.

While this SM-2 test did not demonstrate the capability to intercept an ICBM (that's the job of larger SM-3's), it once again showed the Navy's skill at fleet protection against Scuds and cruise missiles, the original mission of Aegis.

Combine North Korea's historical tendency to salvo multiple shorter range missiles in tandem with its long range Taepodong tests (as it did in both 1998 and 2006) with the very busy naval action in the Sea of Japan (South Korean, Japanese and US Aegis fleets moving into position) and this successful test could not be more timely.
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