In conjunction with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Pacific Fleet ships and crews successfully completed a series of exercises to test the second generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system, Aegis BMD 4.0.1. This set of four exercises, designated FTX-06 Events 1-4, involved the tracking and simulated engagements of a variety of ballistic missile targets launched over the past several months from the Kauai Test Facility, co-located on the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, Kauai. The Aegis BMD system is a critical component of the nation’s overall Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS).
FTX-06 Event 1, conducted on July 30, involved the launch of a short-range ballistic missile target and simulated engagements by three participating Aegis BMD ships. One of these ships, the USS Lake Erie, is equipped with Aegis BMD 4.0.1. For the first time, the USS Lake Erie used this advanced system during a live firing to evaluate all fire control functions, including launch of a simulated SM-3 Block IB missile.
FTX-06 Events 2 and 3 were conducted Oct. 16. Each event involved the launch of a short-range separating ballistic missile target. The USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the target missile using Aegis 4.0.1 and transmitted track data to the BMDS. Several fire control, discrimination, kill assessment, and reengagement decision functions were exercised. These events also demonstrated Aegis BMD’s ability to perform two-way acquisition and tracking data exchange with Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
FTX-06 Event 4 was held Nov. 5, and involved a simulated engagement of a separating ballistic missile target by the USS Lake Erie. This was the first flight of the new Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicle-C (ARAV-C) target. Data was collected to support future modeling and performance predictions for increasingly complex engagements by Aegis BMD 4.01.
Tracking and simulated engagement exercises such as FTX-06 are a typical step in the evaluation of any advancement in the missile defense system. The USS Lake Erie is scheduled to fire the new SM-3 Block IB missile using this advanced weapon system in FY 2011. This second generation Aegis BMD system brings capability to engage increasingly longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles.
The Aegis BMD system, using the SM-3 missile, is the sea-based, midcourse defense component of the BMDS and is cooperatively managed by MDA and the U.S. Navy. As part of the overall BMDS architecture, it contributes to an integrated, layered defense of the United States, our deployed forces, allies and friends against ballistic missile threats of all ranges, in all phases of flight.