The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has conducted the first flight test of a land-based version of a missile-defense system using an interceptor made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems.
In a test late Wednesday at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, a Raytheon-made Standard Missile-3 Block IB was fired from the Aegis Ashore weapon system.
The land system is due to be deployed in Romania starting next year to protect U.S. and NATO forces in Europe from ballistic missile attack.
During the test, a simulated target was detected, tracked and engaged by an SM-3 fired from a vertical launch system, the Missile Defense Agency said. No live target missile was launched.
An intercept flight test of the Aegis Ashore system is scheduled for next year, Raytheon said.
The SM-3 is part of the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, with a targeting and weapon control system made by Lockheed Martin.
Raytheon Missile Systems President Taylor Lawrence said in prepared remarks that the Aegis Ashore land capability adds key flexibility for commanders, with no missile modifications necessary.
The land-based system uses the same SM-3 missile deployed on Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships and currently holds 24 SM-3 missiles at one time, though that could be expanded, Raytheon said.
According to the phased-in missile defense plan for Europe, the first Aegis Ashore site is scheduled to be operational in Romania in 2015. The second site is “on track” to be deployed in Poland in 2018, the company said.