Space and Missile Defense Command and U.S. Strategic Command partners have supported another test of the nation’s missile defense capabilities.
Team members of the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense and SMDC’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, worked alongside Navy ballistic missile defense forces as they intercepted and destroyed a threat-representative intercontinental ballistic missile target with a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA during a flight test demonstration northeast of Hawaii, Nov. 17.
The ICBM-representative target was launched from RTS, and in this developmental test, a Navy destroyer used engage-on-remote capabilities through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications network as part of a defense of Hawaii scenario. After receiving tracking data through the C2BMC system the USS John Finn, an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System-equipped destroyer, launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile, which destroyed the target.
During the Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-44 mission, RTS provided the target launch location; target launch services, such as safety, weather and logistics; and the collection of truth data for determination of system performance.
“This is accomplished through extensive planning and coordination between RTS, the Missile Defense Agency, and numerous other supporting organizations to accurately develop requirements and match those requirements to range capabilities that will meet the customers’ needs,” Michael Butler, chief of RTS Mission Operations Division, said. “These major missions require assistance from hundreds of supporting personnel to ensure that every detail is attended to, funding is in place, documentation is in order, equipment and instrumentation is fully mission capable, and test personnel are fully trained in critical roles.
“RTS is honored to be part of these test events – to team with the Missile Defense Agency with unity of purpose. It’s a truly remarkable and gratifying feat when you consider the number of individual people, from multiple organizations, bringing together required and diverse skills and abilities, all working toward the singular purpose of accomplishing a safe and successful mission.”
Based on preliminary data, the test met its primary objective: to demonstrate the ability for the SM-3 Block IIA missile to intercept an ICBM target. Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
During these tests, the role of JFCC IMD’s Capability and Resource Integration Directorate, known as the J-8, is to advocate on behalf of the warfighter to ensure ballistic missile defense system capabilities coming from MDA are tested in an operationally realistic manner before being delivered to the warfighter. The J-8 coordinates testing requirements and objectives with the various services, MDA and the developmental and operational test community.
“JFCC IMD J-8’s involvement starts even before the event is added to the test baseline, i.e. years out,” said Navy Capt. Leo Albea, director, JFCC IMD Future Concepts, Test and Analysis. “The J-8 helps to steer the development of the BMDS through an understanding of what types of simulated ground tests and flight tests need to be completed in order to adequately obtain, via MDA, the mission-essential capabilities warfighters are seeking in their specific combatant commands. It’s important for JFCC IMD to participate in the flight test because it validates all the test planning and ground test scenarios that culminated in this event.”
During the test, there are two members of the JFCC IMD Flight Test Team, with additional support from throughout the larger J-8 organization, as needed. After testing is complete and the new or upgraded capability is ready to be added to BMDS operational capacity baseline, JFCC IMD J-87 assesses the testing program and provides a Warfighter Capability Assessment.
JFCC IMD is a component of USSTRATCOM, a combatant command with the responsibility for synchronizing global missile defense amongst the other combatant commands. Many tasks associated with this responsibility are delegated to JFCC IMD. It is commanded by Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler who simultaneously commands both JFCC IMD and SMDC.
Missile defense operations are conducted by various joint warfighting organizations across the globe using contributing sea, air, land, space and cyber capabilities, said Col. Todd Schmidt, Ph.D., director, JFCC IMD Plans, Policy and Allied Integration.
“Due to the depth and breadth of these operations and the expanding range and complexity of the missile threats we face, there is a need to synchronize some of the efforts between organizations,” Schmidt said. “These efforts requiring synchronization are what constitute global missile defense.”
JFCC IMD is the recognized subject matter expert across the missile defense enterprise in matters of operational support, policy, strategy, training and education. JFCC IMD operates the Joint Ballistic Training and Education Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Department of Defense’s only certified Joint Center of Excellence. This training facility provides joint missile defense courseware to more than 8,000 students around the world every year.
JFCC IMD also operates a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week operations center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, to provide operational support to the Ground Based Midcourse Defense System, which protects the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii from missile threats.
“FTM-44 is a demonstration designed to show the feasibility of establishing a layered homeland defense,” Schmidt said. “Missile defenses are always more effective if designed with layers that provide multiple intercept opportunities as the threat missile gets closer to the target. The coordination and integration that a layered approach requires is no easy feat but the United States already possesses the individual capabilities and the benefits of linking them would be substantial to deterring potential attacks in a crisis.”