New Raytheon missile interceptor misses in latest test

In 2015, the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA completed its first flight test off Southern California.

Missile Defense Agency

A new version of Raytheon’s ship-based ballistic missile interceptor missed its mark in an test late Wednesday off the coast of Hawaii, after succeeding in its first intercept test earlier this year, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.

The Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense conducted the flight test a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile, which is being developed by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems in a cooperative effort with Japan.

The most recent test follows a successful intercept of another medium-range target in February.

During Wednesday's test at about 10:20 p.m. Arizona time, a medium-range ballistic target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii.

The guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard radar and launched one SM-3 Block IIA missile, but the missile did not intercept the target, the MDA said.

The agency said program officials will conduct an extensive analysis of the test data and until that review is complete, no additional details would be available.

Raytheon declined to comment, deferring to the MDA.

Current operational versions of the Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 have been aboard U.S. ships since 2011 as part of the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system that anchors the "phased adaptive approach" to missile defense of Europe.

A land-based Aegis system went operational in Romania in 2016 and another is planned to go online in Poland in 2018. The SM-3 Block IIA is being developed for launch at sea or from land.

With a larger rocket motor and kill vehicle and an advanced target seeker, the faster-flying SM-3 Block IIA is designed to hit medium-range ballistic missiles, with ranges of about 620 to 1,900 miles, and intermediate range missiles with ranges up to about 3,400 miles. North Korea has recently tested both types of missiles.

Thursday’s test was the fourth developmental flight test of the SM-3 IIA missile, including the successful intercept in February and two prior successful non-intercept flight tests.