Conceptual image of the Aegis Ashore installation in Romania. Erection of the facility, based on the superstructure of a US Navy Aegis warship, will begin later this year. (Missile Defense Agency)
WASHINGTON — The first launch of an anti-ballistic missile from a new shore-based version of the classic Aegis missile system was successfully carried out Tuesday night in Hawaii.
“We had a very successful flight test,” Brendan Scanlon, Lockheed Martin’s director of Aegis Ashore programs, told reporters Wednesday morning during a phone conference. “That is a major milestone for us.”
Aegis Ashore is being developed for installation on land facilities in Europe. Ground for the first installation was broken in October at a military base in Romania, and the system is scheduled to become operational by late 2015.
Tuesday’s launch of a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IB, from a test installation on Kauai at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex and Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), was conducted by the Missile Defense Agency, the US Navy and engineers from Lockheed.
The test validated the layout of Aegis Ashore, which differs from the shipboard installation familiar to thousands of cruiser and destroyer sailors in that the vertical launch cells are considerably farther from the system’s command-and-control facilities.
In Hawaii, Scanlon said, the launcher is about three-and-a-half miles from the Aegis deckhouse — an arrangement dictated, he noted, as much by the local geography as anything else. The layout in Romania will be closer together, he said.
Aegis Ashore uses a system nearly identical to the seagoing version, with the same vertical launch system, fire control system and SPY-1D radar. The building housing the system is strikingly similar, inside and out, to the steel deckhouse of Aegis ships.
The test, Scanlon added, was also the first launch of an SM-3 by Aegis Baseline 9, the latest iteration of the Aegis combat system.
Lockheed built two deckhouses to test Aegis Ashore. The first was erected last year at the company’s facility in Moorestown, New Jersey. That installation, designed from the outset to be transportable, has been broken down for shipping to Romania. The last elements of the Moorestown deckhouse, Scanlon said, were taken down May 19.
The May 20 flight test in Hawaii used Aegis Ashore Controlled Test Vehicle 01, and used a simulated target.
Only one more Aegis Ashore flight test is scheduled in Hawaii, Scanlon said. An event using a real target is planned for next year, he said.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is building the $134 million Aegis Ashore complex on 269 acres at a base near Deveselu, Romania. ■