APL played a key
role in last week's successful intercept test, Flight
Mission-6 — the latest in a continuing flight test
series conducted by the Missile Defense Agency and U.S.
Navy — to develop a sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile
Defense System. Flight Mission-6 involved the firing of a
Standard Missile-3 from the Aegis BMD Cruiser USS Lake Erie
against a target launched from the Pacific Missile Range
Facility, resulting in a hit-to-kill intercept. This was
the fourth successful intercept for Aegis BMD and SM-3.
The test also helped evaluate the Ballistic Missile
Defense System's long-range surveillance and track
capability, successfully relaying target information to the
command and control system.
"Flight Mission-6 is the fourth intercept for the
Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program and represents
another big step in APL's critical efforts to help the Navy
and Missile Defense Agency develop an Aegis BMD system to
protect the U.S., its forces and allies from ballistic
missile attacks," said Conrad Grant, business area
executive for APL's air and missile defense programs.
As technical direction agent for both SM-3 and Aegis
Ballistic Missile Defense programs, APL plays a key role in
flight tests, including Flight Mission-6. In preparation
for these tests, APL performs preflight predictions of the
missile's performance using high-fidelity simulations and
tests missile software in labs on the APL campus.
Laboratory teams simulate hundreds of missile flights
before each flight test to ensure robust missile
APL also defines mission requirements; establishes
test scenarios (including identifying locations for air-,
ground- and sea-based platforms); conducts debris analysis
for range safety; and determines acceptable launch windows
to avoid orbiting satellites. In the field, on test day,
APL technical experts support the Raytheon SM-3 launch team
and man control consoles at the Pacific Missile Range
Facility to support the target instrumentation and
Following each flight, APL performs a postflight
reconstruction of the mission and analyzes the flight data
to update and validate six-degree-of-freedom performance
simulations, and participates in any post-flight
investigations associated with the tests.
— Kristi Marren