MDA, U.S. Navy conduct FTM-32 Medium Range Ballistic Missile Interception Test

SM-6 Dual II missile intercepted MRBM T3c2 target missile during MDA’s firing test for the AEGIS system
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  • 05:42 AM, March 30, 2024
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MDA, U.S. Navy conduct FTM-32 Medium Range Ballistic Missile Interception Test
SM-6 Dual II AD Missile Intercepts MRBM Target during MDA-U.S. Navy test on March 28, 2024.

The U.S. Navy’s USS Preble equipped with Flight Test Aegis Weapon System 32 (FTM-32) intercepted a medium range ballistic missile (MRBM) test target using the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) fired from the warship.

Confirming the test conducted on March 28, the Pentagon said the Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Navy conducted an MRBM intercept test target utilizing the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Dual II with Software Upgrade (SWUP). These upgrades allow the SM-6 to intercept small and fast targets like the re-entry vehicles of MRBMs.

The test target was launched from PMRF, located on Kauai, Hawaii. USS Preble (DDG 88) launched the SM-6 Dual II missiles and successfully intercepted the MRBM test target.

During the test, FTM-32 (Stellar Laelaps), demonstrated the capability to detect, track, engage, and intercept Northrop Grumman-produced MRBM target in the terminal phase of flight culminating in a live intercept by an Aegis Baseline 9 equipped ship.

Australia has also participated in this test. In addition, USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), the first Flight III Aegis Destroyer equipped with SPY-6 radar, participated in this critical event in support of its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation campaign.

This successful intercept against an advanced threat-representative target in the final stages of flight demonstrated the power and flexibility of the Aegis Weapon System paired with the Standard Missile 6,” said MDA Director Lieutenant General Heath Collins.

Australia’s support included a demonstration of radar capabilities of the ANZAC Class frigate HMAS Stuart, together with an Australian E-7 Wedgetail aircraft assisting in data collection and communications. Australian sensors also provided target track data in support of a cued-organic simulated engagement, demonstrating allied interoperability.

In addition to Australia achieving its objectives, their participation provided benefit in assisting the U.S. with redundancy for test telemetry collection. Through the collaboration, additional objectives were achieved that increased interoperability and integration between the two countries.

“This was a unique opportunity to work closely with the U.S. MDA and U.S. Navy as they tested the Aegis Weapon System’s ability to detect, track and defend against short-to-medium range ballistic missiles, while we simultaneously observed the performance of our own systems,” said Australian Defence Force Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, AO CSC. “It is a great example of our deepening defence engagement with the U.S. and an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the Australian Defence Force’s interoperability with the U.S. Navy.”

FTM-32 represented the fourth flight test of an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense-configured vessel using the upgraded SM-6 Dual II missile and the second Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) intercept of an MRBM target using the SM-6 Dual II SWUP missile.

The SM-6, an evolution of the Standard Missile family, features an active radar seeker booster and advanced datalink, surpassing the SM-2 in range at 240 km. Raytheon is developing a new SM-6 Block 1B variant with a larger 21-inch rocket motor, enhancing its capabilities against ICBMs.

SM-6 delivers over-the-horizon, air defense capability and can perform Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) missions. The SM-6 Dual II SWUP missile is designed to defend against short-to-medium range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of flight.

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