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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 9, 2006

Missile test off Kaua'i a success

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i A joint U.S.-Japan anti-ballistic missile system was successfully tested in the ocean off Kaua'i yesterday, demonstrating new Japanese targeting technology carried for the first time on an American missile.

The rocket was fired from the USS Lake Erie as it cruised off Kaua'i at 10:47 a.m. It was directed at a virtual target an enemy missile whose signature was programmed into the computers on board the ship.

Previous launches have involved actual rocket targets fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the west side of Kaua'i. It was the seventh flight test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.

The test took on added import following news that two short-range missiles were launched by North Korea yesterday and may have reached the Sea of Japan.

The perceived threat from North Korean missiles helped get Japan into a joint research program with the United States seven years ago. The U.S.-Japan Joint Cooperative Research Project started in 1999, one year after North Korea caused an international furor when it fired a missile that passed over Japan on its way to landing in the Pacific.

The test is "an important step in our cooperation with Japan and the growing international support for missile defense," said Thomas Karako, the director of programs at Claremont Institute and the editor of Missile-Threat.com.

Yesterday's test launch of the U.S. Navy's ship-to-air missile defense system employed a three-stage Standard Missile-3 with a Japanese-built warhead a clamshell nose cone filled with electronics. The flight test mission was called Joint Control Test Vehicle-1.

The nose cone was deployed at 10:48 a.m. at an elevation of 55 miles, roughly 60 miles northwest of Kaua'i. The nose cone's clamshell covering opened, permitting multiple cameras to assist in tracking the simulated target.

The electronics also included temperature and shock sensors and radio equipment to send data back to the surface.

Japan is a major buyer of U.S. anti-missile technology. It has purchased AEGIS radar system for its ships, as well as SM-3 missiles.

The Missile Defense Agency and the Navy jointly run the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, whose prime contractor is Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors.

The Standard Missile system prime contractor is Raytheon Missile Systems.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.