PUBLISHED: 00:53 EST, 26 October 2012 | UPDATED: 10:04 EST, 26 October 2012
The U.S. military intercepted four out of five targets over the Pacific Ocean in the largest and most complex test of the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, according to officials.
The test at Kwajalein Atoll on Wednesday was designed to demonstrate the system’s ability to defend against a raid of five nearly simultaneous threats, Missile Defense Agency spokeswoman Pamela Rogers said.
The targets included one medium-range ballistic missile, two short-range ballistic missiles and two low-flying cruise missiles.
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The highly coordinated exercise that involved all three branches of the U.S. military took 30 minutes to complete and cost the government $188million, according to officials.
‘It was conducted to demonstrate the ability of the Ballistic Missile Defense System to defend against a raid of five near-simultaneous threats in an operationally relevant scenario,’ Rogers told the Los Angeles Times. ‘It was the first time in a live-fire test that multiple weapon systems engaged a raid of multiple targets near-simultaneously.’
Soldiers in the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command used the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system made by Lockheed Martin to shoot down the medium-range target for the first time ever, officials said.
Two targets launched — a short-range missile and a cruise missile — were intercepted by the PAC-3 Patriot missile defense system manufactured by Raytheon Co and operated by the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.
Sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald destroyer engaged the other cruise missile. They also tried to knock out the other short-range missile with a Lockheed Martin-made SM-3 Block 1A interceptor but were unable to confirm they had shot down the target.
Fire power: The targets included one medium-range ballistic missile, two short-range ballistic missiles and two low-flying cruise missiles
The Air Force had a role, as airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center operated a portable radar system specifically designed for ballistic missile defense, called the AN/TPY-2, Rogers said.
Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have completed 56 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 71 flight test attempts since 2001, the agency said.
Kwajalein is a small atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands where the U.S. maintains a ballistic missile defense site. It’s halfway between Hawaii and Australia.
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