One missile interceptor made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems found its mark while another missed in the latest test of the nation’s ballistic-missile defense shield, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said Monday.
The multi-pronged test, conducted Oct. 31 near Wake Island and surrounding areas of the western Pacific Ocean, was designed to test two layers of the missile shield, the land-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system and the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system.
During the test, the THAAD system successfully intercepted a short-range, air-launched target and an extended medium-range ballistic missile, the MDA said. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the Army’s THAAD system, which uses radar made by Raytheon.
But a Raytheon Standard Missile-3 Block IB interceptor launched at the ballistic-missile target by the destroyer USS John Paul Jones failed when “an anomaly early in its flight prevented a midcourse intercept,” the missile agency said.
During the same test, the destroyer fired a Raytheon SM-2 Block IIIA interceptor that destroyed an air-breathing target drone mimicking an anti-ship cruise missile.
The MDA said a review is under way to determine the cause of the failure of the SM-3 Block IB missile, which carried new “threat upgrade” software.
The SM-3 Block IB was declared initially operational last year, after three successful intercepts — not including one miss during a two-missile salvo — in 2013. During a test in November 2014, an SM-3 Block IB destroyed a short-range ballistic missile target in a test involving multiple targets.
In May, the Missile Defense Agency awarded Raytheon a $559 million contract to produce more than 50 SM-3 Block IBs.