Saturday, January 27, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 27, 2001

Missile target launched off Kaua'i

Bush planning missile defense

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser KauaÎi Bureau

LIHUE, Kauai — Against a curtain of flame, a Navy Standard Missile-3 blasted off Thursday from the deck of the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie and chased down a target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

The missile was launched from a tube built into the deck of the cruiser. The missile’s simulated warhead was not expected to hit the target and it did not. The Navy termed the effort a successful test flight.

A press release issued immediately after the flight said the test had several functions: evaluating the missile’s stability during the release of its warhead, testing the launching and tracking systems on the Aegis cruiser, collecting data on the missile's performance, and assessing the capabilities of the infrared seeker.

It was the third of nine test flights in a program to prove the workability of using the new SM-3 missiles to knock down enemy ballistic missiles. The research builds on the capabilities of the Aegis weapons system, plus earlier rocket tests called LEAP, for lightweight exo-atmospheric projectile.

Thursday's test was called Aegis LEAP Intercept, or ALI. The entire research effort is a part of the Navy's Theater Wide Ballistic Missile Defense Program.

The Navy says the missile defense program is aimed at developing a defense against theater ballistic missiles for military forces overseas, military assets, and U.S. and overseas population centers.

Raytheon Missile Systems' new SM-3 was first launched in late 1999 in a test conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai's west side. The predecessor of the SM-3, known as the SM-2, is deployed on 50 Aegis guided missile cruisers and destroyers. Aegis and the associated Vertical Launch System are built by Lockheed Martin Naval Electronic and Surveillance.

Aegis, a name out of mythology, is a magical shield employed by Greek gods.

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