U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense

Aegis BMD Evolution

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense's (BMD) role in missile defense has evolved as the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) evolves to meet its mission, engagement of ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight through multi-layered defense. In the initial fielding of the BMDS in 2004, Aegis BMD's role was that of a forward sensor. Aegis BMD ships were forward deployed to extend the battlespace and provided early warning of an ICBM launch and transmitted track data to the Ground-based Missile Defense command center via the BMDS. This tracking capability is known as Long Range Surveillance and Track (LRS&T).

In 2005, Aegis BMD's role evolved to include an engagement capability. Aegis BMD ships, armed with the SM-3 Block IA, were capable of intercepting short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the midcourse phase of flight. The Aegis BMD engagement capabilities were expanded to include the terminal capability in 2006. FTM-14 (June 2008) and Stellar Daggers (March 09) demonstrated the terminal capability. The Aegis BMD 3.6.1 configuration (LRS&T, midcourse and terminal engagement capabilities) is deployed throughout the U.S. Navy Fleet.

In 2011, Aegis BMD launched an SM-3 Block IA missile using track data from the AN/TPY-2 radar that was passed through the Command and Control Battle Management and Communication system to intercept an IRBM target to demonstrate the EPAA Phase 1 capability. This firing was the first Launch on Remote (LOR) Aegis BMD engagement and intercept of an IRBM. The firing was also outside the original design specifications for the SM-3 Block IA missile.

The MDA is currently developing next-generation missile defense capabilities to counter future projected threats. One such capability is LOR, the capability to sense a threat remotely, transmit tracking information to a BMD weapon system in order to launch a guided missile earlier and farther downrange than the weapon system organic radar's detection range. On February 13, 2013, the in-orbit Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrators (STSS-D) detected and tracked a ballistic missile target and forwarded track data to the USS LAKE ERIE. The ship, equipped with the second generation Aegis BMD weapon system, used LOR doctrine to launch an SM-3 Block IA guided missile based on STSS-D tracking data. As the target continued along its trajectory, the shipboard radar detected the target and guided the missile to intercept. This flight test, FTM-20, demonstrated that LOR capability increases the battle space, allows earlier engagements and extends the Aegis BMD's original design intercept range. View the FTM-20 fact sheet.

Aegis BMD 4.0.X / SM-3 Block IB — In Development

Launch on RemoteAegis BMD will be able to engage increasingly longer range, more sophisticated ballistic missiles with the deployment of the second generation Aegis BMD Weapon System upgrade, BMD 4.0.X, and the SM-3 Block IB missile.

New or improved capabilities

  • Improved target discrimination
  • Enhanced Launch on Remote tracking data
  • Longer range engagements
  • Defeat sophisticated ballistic missiles


Following RADM Wayne Meyer's "Build a little, test a little, learn a lot" philosophy, the second generation Aegis BMD Weapon System has conducted the below test events:

FTX-06 Events 1 - 4 (Oct 2009)

The guided missile Aegis cruiser, USS LAKE ERIE (CG 70), upgraded with the BMD 4.0.1 Weapon System, successfully detected, tracked and conducted simulated SM-3 Block IB engagements against a variety of different ballistic missile targets during a series of tracking exercises. The targets ranged from simple separating medium-range missiles to sophisticated, separating short-range missiles designed to confuse missile defense systems. All test objectives were met.

JFTMs 3 and 4

During Japan Flight Test Missions 3 and 4 (JFTM-3, October 2009 and JFTM-4, October 2010) USS LAKE ERIE tracked separating ballistic missile targets with the second generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, BMD 4.0.1.

FTM-16 Event 1 (March 2011)

Again in FTM-16 Event 1, USS LAKE ERIE successfully tracked a ballistic missile target. In addition to the BMD mission, LAKE ERIE also validated the ship's Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) capability by destroying an incoming anti-ship cruise missile target with an SM-2 Block III missile in a live firing exercise. This was the first event in which a ship used BMD 4.0.1 Weapon System to engage
an AAW threat.

FTM-16 Event 2 (September 2011)

FTM-16 Event 2 was the first flight test of the SM-3 Block IB missile. While an intercept was not achieved, critical system functions were demonstrated, including the exceptional performance of the new kinetic warhead divert system which allowed the Navy certification of the Aegis BMD 4.0.1 computer program.

FTM-16 Event 2a (May 2012)

This flight test was the first successful live fire intercept test of the second generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, BMD 4.0.1, and the SM-3 Block IB missile. In May 2012, USS LAKE ERIE (CG 70) successfully intercepted a short-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean. Aegis BMD 4.0.1 and the SM-3 Block IB missile enable the engagement of increasingly longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles that may be launched in larger raid sizes. This was Aegis BMD's 22nd successful intercept out of 27 missile firings against various targets.

FTM-18 (June 2012)

The second generation Aegis BMD Weapon System (Aegis BMD 4.0.1 and SM-3 Block IB missile) successfully intercepted a separating, ballistic missile target. The newly developed SM-3 two-color seeker discriminated and tracked the lethal object in a dense debris environment. This flight test was the first Combined DT/OT event of the Aegis BMD 4.0.1 and the SM-3 Block IB missile. FTM-18 was the 23rd successful intercept for the Aegis BMD Program out of 28 attempts. View the FTM-18 fact sheet.

FTM-19 (May 2013)

FTM-19 was the third consecutive successful intercept test of the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and the SM-3 Block IB guided missile. This flight test demonstrated capability for engagement of long-range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles. View the FTM-19 fact sheet.

FTG-07 (July 2013)

The Ground-Based Interceptor was fired on tracking data supplied by USS LAKE ERIE (CG 70), the first use of an Aegis BMD ship as a launch-on-sensor in a Ground-based Midcourse Defense test.

FTM-21 (September 2013)

USS LAKE ERIE, equipped with the second generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and fired two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to engage the ballistic missile target. The first SM-3 intercepted the target warhead. FTM-21 was the first salvo mission of two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles launched against a single separating target. This flight test supports the Operation Test and Evaluation events to operationally assess the Aegis BMD 4.0.X weapon system and a full rate production decision for the SM-3 Block IB guided missile. View the FTM-21 Fact Sheet.

FTM-22 (October 2013)

Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Pacific Command and Sailors aboard USS LAKE ERIE successfully conducted an operational flight test of the second generation Aegis BMD weapon system, resulting in the intercept of a ballistic missile target. FTM-22 was the fifth consecutive successful intercept flight test of Aegis BMD 4.0.X weapon system. Findings of operational tests FTMs 21 and 22 will support follow-on production decisions for the SM-3 Block IB guided missile. View the FTM-22 Fact Sheet.

Aegis BMD 5.0 — In Development

The first Aegis BMD 5.0 ship, USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG 53) is presently being upgraded with an anticipated completion by the end of CY 2013. The Navy and Aegis BMD are engaged in a joint effort to migrate the Aegis BMD capability into the DDG Modernization Program's Open Architecture (OA) efforts. The Aegis OA program is key to potentially expanding Aegis BMD capability to all destroyers and some cruisers of the Aegis Fleet. OA and DDG Modernization will also provide the foundation for implementing Aegis BMD in Allied Navy ships.

New capability

  • Increased Sea-Based BMD Force Structure

Aegis BMD 5.1 — In Development

The SM-3 Cooperative Development Program focuses on joint U.S. and Japan development of a 21 inch diameter variant of the SM-3 missile, referred to as SM-3 Block IIA. Aegis BMD 5.1 will integrate the SM-3 Block IIA missile into the combat system. Data links will also be improved to enable Engage on Remote track data. Deployment begins in 2018. SM-3 Block IIA guided missile development completed Critical Design Review and successfully conducted a Propulsion Test Vehicle (PTV) flight test. The PTV round consisted of a live booster with an inert 21-inch diameter upper-stage assembly encanisted in a Vertical Launch System canister.

New capabilities

  • Defeat longer range threats
  • Engage on Remote