The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has announced another successful test of the ship launched Standard Missile SM-3 anti-ballistic missile system. The FTM-22 flight test launch at 0533 GMT on 4 October used the latest Block 1B version of the SM-3 missile which can reach higher altitudes and ranges compared to its predecessors and would be deployed against the latest intermediate range ballistic missiles threatening the fleet or cities on land. Built by Lockheed Martin, the SM-3 Block 1B missile was launched by the Aegis/Spy-1 radar system equipped guided missile cruiser, USS Lake Erie (CG-70), and successfully intercepted its target mimicking a warhead. The Block 1B version of the SM-3 missile is expected to enter full production when funds are granted by the US Department of Defense (DOD).
While the anti-missile SM-3 derivative of the ground to air Standard Missile SM-2 missile is regarded by observers as having an outstanding success record, not all of the Missile Defense Agencies programmes have been as successful. The latest test of the Ground-based midcourse Defence System interceptor, the main missile charged with defending the continental United States of America failed to hit its target in July.