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Aegis Ballistic Missile

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Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) System


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Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system was developed by the Missile Defence Agency (MDA) in cooperation with the US Navy. It is the sea-based element of the US BMDS.

The Aegis BMD provides warships with the capability of intercepting and destroying short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

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Variants of the Aegis system
The variations of the Aegis BMD system currently in service are the 3.6.1 version and the 4.0.1 version. The MDA and the US Navy plan to deploy more advanced versions, such as the 5.0, 5.1 and 5.2, in the future.

The improved versions will be equipped with advanced processors and software, as well as upgraded variants of the SM-3 interceptor missile.

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Successful Aegis BMD system flight tests
Aegis BMD successfully completed the first intercept test in January 2002 and has to date achieved 23 successful intercepts from 28 attempts. The system demonstrated 20 successful exo-atmospheric intercepts in 25 attempts using the SM-3 missile.

These firings also included three successful intercepts in four attempts by the Aegis ships of the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF). The system also performed three successful endo-atmospheric intercepts in three attempts, using the SM-2 Block IV missile.

Standard Missile-3 and SM-2 Block IV interceptors

The Aegis BMD uses the Standard Missile-3 mid-course interceptors and the Standard Missile-2 Block IV (SM-2 Block IV) terminal-phase interceptors developed by Raytheon.

The SM-3 is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles above the atmosphere during the midcourse phase of a hostile ballistic missile's flight. The missile is launched from the MK 41 vertical launching system (VLS) of the warships. It receives in-flight target updates from the ship.

The kinetic warhead (KW) is designed to destroy a ballistic missile's warhead with more than 130 megajoules of kinetic energy. The existing SM-3 Block IA version will be upgraded to SM-3 Block IB, SM-3 Block IIA and SM-3 Block IIB to counter future ballistic missile threats.

The SM-2 Block IV can engage the ballistic missiles within the atmosphere in the terminal phase of a missile's trajectory. The missile carries a blast fragmentation warhead. The SM-2 Block IV will be replaced with a new extended range SM-6 interceptor.

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Features of the US MDA's system
Aegis integrates Aegis combat system, SM-3 missiles and command, control and communication systems of the US Navy and joint forces.


The Aegis BMD configured ships can detect and track ballistic missiles of all ranges and transfer target detection information to the ground-based midcourse defence interceptors in Alaska and California.

The LRS&T capability shares tracking data to cue other components of the BMDS including PAC-3, terminal high altitude area defence (THAAD) and medium extended air defence system (MEADS).
 

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Designs for next-gen missile defense interceptors pass key review ahead of schedule

By Jen Judson

Dec 21,2021
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A long-range, ground-based interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Sept. 12, 2021. This was the first flight test of a three-stage booster operating in two-stage mode, meaning the third stage was not ignited, allowing earlier release of the kill vehicle providing increased battlespace for the military. (Courtesy of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency)

WASHINGTON — Two Next-Generation Interceptor designs under development as part of a competition to replace ground-based interceptors in the U.S. homeland intercontinental ballistic missile defense system have both passed a key review.

The Pentagon chose Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to go head-to-head in a competition to provide a Next-Generation Interceptor, or NGI, to replace current interceptors in the ground at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, that make up the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System, or GMD. GMD is designed to defend the continental U.S. against possible attacks from North Korea and Iran.

Northrop Grumman and its teammate Raytheon Technologies announced the completion of its system requirements review in a Dec. 20 statement. Lockheed Martin completed its SRR in October. The Missile Defense Agency approved the SRRs ahead of schedule.

Wrapping up the review means the designs can now proceed into an initial system design phase and allows the continuation of risk reduction testing and “critical component qualification activities,” said a Northrop and Raytheon joint statement.
“This achievement comes after Northrop and Raytheon demonstrated its NGI Common Software Factory, which enables rapid development, integration and delivery in a DevSecOps environment,” the statement added.

The team is also using “high-fidelity model-based systems engineering, and hardware manufacturing in customer-certified facilities,” and is investing its own internal dollars to reduce risk on hardware development and testing “to ensure deployment of NGI in the rapid timeline the nation requires,” according to the statement.

“I am proud the Lockheed Martin team was able to complete the NGI Systems Requirement Review six months after the initial development and demonstration contract award, when normally it takes from six months to a year to get to this point,” Sarah Reeves, vice president of the NGI program at Lockheed Martin, said in statement.

“On NGI we were born digital, and digital technology is built into the foundation of our program. Since our SRR, where we demonstrated our own Software Factory to the customer, we remain focused on reducing technology risk and proving out our design using the latest in digital technology to learn, adapt, and refine this critical capability in real-time,” she added.

The contract the teams received in March 2021 to design NGIs has an estimated maximum value of $1.6 billion through fiscal 2022 and will carry both designs into the technology development and risk reduction phase of the program.

The Pentagon announced in August 2019 its intention to build a new NGI after the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program—– which would upgrade the GBI with the ability to go after more complex threats more reliably — was abruptly killed. RKV struggled with insurmountable technical issues, resulting in delayed schedules and cost increases.

Raytheon was the developer for the canceled RKV program as a subcontractor to Boeing.

Roughly eight months later, MDA released a request for proposals for its NGI with the aim to downselect to two companies who would then compete for the right to build the interceptor.

Northrop and Raytheon announced their intention to compete as a team in May 2020, and Lockheed announced it would join forces with Aerojet Rocketdyne to compete in October 2020. Lockheed announced its plans to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne in December 2020.

While MDA anticipates testing of the NGI in the mid-2020s and placing them in the ground roughly in 2027 or 2028, the agency’s director thinks this could happen sooner.

Vice Adm. Jon Hill said earlier this year that through competition and industry investment, “we know the date is going to come to the left.”
Earlier this year, an independent cost estimate from the Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office determined the total cost to develop the NGI could come to roughly $13 billion, while procurement as well as operation and sustainment could come to a little more than $2 billion.

Replacing the GBIs in the GMD system is a top U.S. missile defense priority. Congress, in its recently passed FY22 National Defense Authorization Act, sought increased oversight of the program and is requiring more transparency when it comes to MDA flight and ground testing.

Part of that provision requires, as part of MDA’s FY23 budget request, a report on the funding profile needed for the NGI program that covers costs through the time NGI is deemed fully operationally capable.
 
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