Japan successfully tests ballistic missile defense system

Sept. 13 (UPI) — The Japanese destroyer JS Atago, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Lockheed Martin have tested an upgraded Aegis Combat System Ballistic Missile Defense system for the Japanese navy.

The Japanese Flight Test Mission-05 exercise on Sept. 11 successfully intercepted a separating target simulating a ballistic missile warhead, Lockheed announced on Thursday.

The launch test follows a modernization of the JS Atago. The JS Atago Aegis Weapon System BMD is part of a joint weapons system used by the United States and allied nations for air and missile defense.

The target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, and the Atago intercepted it using a Standard Missile-3 Block 1B missile, according to Raytheon, which makes the defensive missile system.

Raytheon said that while Japan currently uses the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, the newer 1B offers better control and allows for engagement with a wider set of threats.

“I commend the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force for their commitment to affordability and innovation,” Mary Keiferd, director of Lockheed Martin’s Aegis International programs, Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors, said in a press release.

“This baseline modernization effort streamlined their lifetime support costs and provided a means to gain advanced BMD capability,” according to Kelferd.

The BMD test is part of a partnership between the United States and Japan to develop the Japanese navy’s ballistic missile defense systems. The program will supplement the U.S. BMD destroyers and cruisers already deployed in the Pacific with Japanese capabilities.

The AEGIS system is a complete weapons system based off of the AN/SPY-1 phased array automated radar. It is capable of tracking more than 100 targets at once. The command and decision element of its targeting system can interpret and prioritize incoming targets based on range and threat level.

It is primarily used for targeting the MK. 41 Vertical Launch System, which can launch surface-to-air missiles like the Standard-class and the Tomahawk cruise missile. The variants of the Standard can target everything from ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft, and surface vessels.

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