Space tracking satellites used in missile defense interecept

Stars and Stripes:
A missile made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems destroyed a ballistic missile in a flight test primarily using targeting data from space satellites, the company said Wednesday.

During the test off Hawaii at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, a Standard Missile-3 Block IA fired from the Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie destroyed a medium-range ballistic-missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

The interceptor was guided mainly by tracking data from a remote, Raytheon-made sensor payload on two Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator satellites, the company said.

The so-called "launch on remote" test used the satellite sensors to detect the target early on. The ship's crew fired the SM-3 based on satellite tracking data and before the ship's radar detected the target, Raytheon said.

The use of satellite tracking effectively expands the operational area of the SM-3, part of the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, and allows for earlier detection and elimination of threats, Mitch Stevison, director of Raytheon's SM-3 program, said on a conference call.

Though satellite tracking has been used in prior tests in combination with other ground, aircraft and ship systems, Stevison said the test is the first test in which satellites provided "engagement-quality data" for an intercept, calling the event "a seminal moment in missile defense."

"It is a moment that, in my mind, will change our thinking about ballistic-missile defense for many, many, years to come," he said.

The Aegis system is the sea-based element of the nation's emerging missile-defense shield, which is intended to counter possible long-range ballistic-missile attacks by nations including North Korea and Iran. Ships with SM-3 Block IAs already are patrolling European waters as part of the first phase of the missile-defense plan.
The satellite detection and guidance system shortens the response time and makes Aegis more lethal when dealing with enemy ballistic missiles.  I would also like to see a land based launch phased system to deal with missiles from North Korea and Iran.  This would make decoys ineffective.


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