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Japanese Aegis Destroyer Wins Test By Killing Target Missile With SM-3 Interceptor

By | December 17, 2007

      First Time An Ally Has Used Aegis/SM-3 In Ballistic Missile Defense Test

      The Japanese destroyer Kongo today employed its Aegis weapon control system to guide a Standard Missile-3 to destroy a U.S. target missile.

      It was the first time that an allied nation has used the Aegis/SM-3 ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in a test.

      Japanese self-defense forces have moved to develop a BMD capability in the face of continued concern about North Korea, which years ago fired a long-range Taepo Dong-1 missile arcing over Japan that landed in the sea.

      As well, North Korea last year fired several missiles in a single test series, and all of them worked save for a long-range missile that, if functional, was thought to have the capability to strike the United States. That long-range weapon malfunctioned seconds after launching, but Pyongyang is thought to be perfecting the system.

      Further, North Korea last year successfully tested a nuclear weapon, detonating it underground.

      While North Korea recently has said it would denuclearize, it has moved only partially thus far to dismantle its Yongbyong nuclear plant, and the rogue nation has yet to turn over any nuclear weapons to international inspectors.

      North Korea, in fact, often has promised to eschew nuclear ambitions so as to gain aid from other nations, only to break its word.

      For Japan, which also has observed rival China procuring hundreds of missiles, the move to defend against missile threats is unavoidable.

      The Aegis/SM-3 system is part of the U.S. BMD shield, installed on myriad U.S. Navy ships.

      Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] makes the Aegis enemy-missile-tracker and the interceptor guidance system, while Raytheon Co. [RTN] makes the SM-3 interceptor missile that kills the enemy target.

      The Japanese Aegis BMD test in the Pacific Missile Range Facility follows repeated tests of the Aegis/SM system conducted by U.S. Navy ships, which have scored multiple consecutive wins in tests during recent years.

      Based on those test results, many analysts and lawmakers see the Aegis system as dependable. It was deployed just before the July 2006 North Korean multiple-missile-launch test, in case the isolated communist nation launched a long-range missile at the United States.

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