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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University December 15, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 15
APL Plays Key Role in Successful Missile Defense Flight Test

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 performance.

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 operations.

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


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