By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
December 19, 2007
Scientists, engineers, missile defense experts and naval warfare professionals are meeting now to evaluate the initial data extractions of a landmark event: Japan’s Navy ship JS KONGO detected, tracked, developed a fire control solution, launched an SM-3 midcourse ballistic missile (BM) interceptor and killed the intended BM target on Monday.
In this photo provided by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) is launched from the Japanese Aegis Destroyer JS Kongo in the warter off Kauai, Hawaii, Monday, Dec. 17, 2007. The Japanese military became the first U.S. ally to shoot down a mid-range ballistic missile in space, about 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean, fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, run by the U.S. Navy, with the interceptor fired from the ship at sea in a test Monday.(AP Photo/Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, HO)
Never before has an ally of the United States employed this lethal and long-range ballistic missile defense system: the modified AEGIS weapon system including the SPY radar and the SM-3 missile.
All previous tests employing this system were conducted solely by the U.S. Navy.
In fact, this event again proved the viability of effective ballistic missile defense; a science once thought impossible.
The KONGO guided intercept that destroyed the ballistic missile occurred more than 100 miles above the surface of the sea.
The event was carried out at America’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) near Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. Many in the international community including Admirals from Japan, South Korea and as far away as Germany call PMRF the finest missile land, sea and air test facility in the world.
The lead U.S. agency for event coordination of Japan Flight Test Mission 1 (JFTM-1) was the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) headed by Lt. General Henry “Trey” Obering III.
Lockheed Martin is the lead engineering agent for the AEGIS system. Raytheon engineerers the SM-3. A Raytheon press release said, “The SM-3 Block IA provides increased capability to engage short-to-intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The missile incorporates rocket motor upgrades and computer program modifications to improve sensor performance, missile guidance and control, as well as lower cost. SM-3 Block IA includes production and mission support features required to qualify the missile as a tactical fleet asset.”
“We are proud of SM-3’s impressive record of successful intercepts,” said Fred Wyatt, Raytheon’s vice president for Naval Warfare Systems in a previous statement.
“The program has truly transitioned to a manufacturing mindset. We have delivered more than 23 operational SM-3 rounds to our customers. We are ramping up our facilities and suppliers to accelerate deliveries of this urgently needed capability to the fleet,” said Wyatt.
Rear Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force said the missile defense test event was “Breathtaking and a wonderful success.” He praised the professionalism and competence of KONGO’s Captain and crew.
KONGO at sea
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency called the test “a major milestone” in U.S.-Japanese relations.
A senior U.S. Naval Officer told Peace and Freedom, “This is a beginning and not an ending. Someday, in the not to distant future, U.S. Navy and Japan Navy cruisers and guided missile destroyers will work together to deter actors with ballistic missiles like North Korea. Moreover, the two naval forces will work in an integrated architecture to defend the people of Japan and increase security and confidence of the American people and all U.S. allies. This is an ‘Aloha’ moment, not a good bye. You can expect both nations to press ahead.”
The SM-3 Interceptor Missile blasts from JS KONGO’s Vertical Launch System on December 17, 2007. The missile flew downrange and killed a ballistic missile target more than 100 miles above the sea.