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SM-3 Block IIA missile fails intercept test

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense conducted an intercept test of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA in the ocean off Hawaii.

By Stephen Carlson
SM-3 Block IIA missile fails intercept test
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted its second intercept test of the SM-3 Block II missile this week, but unlike the previous test the missile did not hit it's target. Pictured, a previous SM-3 variant missile launch by the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie. Photo courtesy of the Defense Imagery Management Operations Center

June 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense conducted a intercept test of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA in the ocean off Hawaii.

The launch ended in failure when the SM-3 missed its target, a medium-range ballistic missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

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The launching ship, the USS John Paul Jones, successfully detected and tracked the missile with its AN/SPY-1 radar and engaged, but failed to score a hit.

This marks the fourth test launch of the Block IIA and the second intercept test. The first attempted intercept earlier this year was successful. Program officials are reviewing the data generated by the test and say they'll release further details at a later date.

The SM-3 Block IIA is the latest development of the Standard Missile ballistic missile defense series. It is designed for use with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system in service to shoot down medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The SM-3 series can be both land- and sea-based, and uses its own kinetic energy, or "hit-to-kill," rather than explosive warheads. The BLOCK IIA model is capable of engaging ballistic missiles as they begin their descent in low space, as was demonstrated in the missile's first intercept test.

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Currently deployed versions capable of intercepting ballistic missiles include the SM-3 Block 1A, SM-3 Block 1B, and SM-6 interceptors. The new variant is expected to be exported to interested nations with Aegis equipped ships.

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