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The European Phased Adaptive Approach at a Glance
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Contact: Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: July 2017

On September 17, 2009, President Obama announced that the U.S. would pursue a “Phased Adaptive Approach” to missile defense in Europe. The new approach is centered on the Aegis missile defense system and is being deployed in three main phases from 2011 to 2018. A fourth phase to have been fielded after 2022 was cancelled in March 2013. [For more on this development, please see: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2013_04/Pentagon-Shifts-Gears-on-Missile-Defense]

The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) is the U.S. contribution to NATO’s missile defense system and is designed to protect Europe against short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles launched from Iran. The approach consists of sea- and land-based configurations of the Aegis missile defense system, the centerpiece of which is the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor. A new, more capable version of the SM-3 is being developed, and the system will be increasingly integrated with an evolving network of land and space-based sensors. According to the Obama administration, the plan uses technology that is both “proven” and “cost-effective,” and will be able to adapt as threats evolve.

The EPAA broke with the plans pursued by the Bush administration. The Bush plans had called for deployment of a ground-based missile defense system in Europe, similar to the system deployed in California and Alaska. This included bilateral agreements to station ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic.

As part of the EPAA, Turkey is hosting a radar at Kürecik, Romania is hosting an Aegis Ashore site at Deveselu Air Base , Germany is hosting a command center at Ramstein Air Base, and Poland will host another Aegis Ashore site at the Redzikowo military base beginning in 2018.

Phase 1, consisting of the radar in Turkey, command center in Germany, and deployed BMD-capable Aegis ship, has been operational since 2012. In May 2016, NATO declared operational the Romania Aegis Ashore site as part of EPAA Phase 2. At NATO’s July 2016 Warsaw summit, NATO declared the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of the NATO ballistic missile defense system and is progressing towards full operational capability. 

The following chart provides an overview of the different EPAA phases. It contains information on the planned scheduling of the phases, the deployment platforms, missile upgrades and the sensors which will be integrated into the system. More has been disclosed about the earlier phases; some of the specifics of the later phases are still to be determined


Phase 1, Deployed

Missile Platforms and Numbers

      • In March 2011, the USS Monterey was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. This represented "the first sustained deployment of a ballistic missile defense-capable ship" in support of the European PAA.
      • In fiscal year (FY) 2012, 113 SM-3 Block IA and 16 SM-3 Block IB interceptors will be delivered and 29 Aegis-equipped BMD ships deployed.
      • The SM-3 IA successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target in its most recent test on February 13, 2013.

        SM-3 Variant and Numbers

        • SM-3 Block IA interceptors have a velocity of 3 km/second and are designed to engage short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in the mid-course phase.
        • Block IA has a single color seeker, a 21 inch-diameter booster, and is 13.5 inches in diameter along the rest of the interceptor.
        • Block IA costs between $9 and 10 million per unit.
        • Some SM-2 Block IVs (the SM-3 predecessor) will also be retained for use against missiles in the terminal phase.

        Sensors and Combat System

        • Initially, the system will use sea-based sensors mounted on the Aegis ships, as well as a forward-based mobile X-band radar on land. The first EPAA radar was deployed in Turkey in late 2011.
        • The mobile X-band radar is the AN/TPY-2 manufactured by Raytheon. The U.S. is planning to deploy a total of 18 AN/TPY-2 radars. So far, seven have been produced, and two are currently deployed in Israel and Japan.
        • The sensors and interceptors will be brought together under the Aegis combat system. This is a system capable of tracking 100 simultaneous targets. Phase 1 will primarily use Aegis version 3.6.1 software.
        • According to the Defense Science Board (2011), the current Aegis shipboard radar is inadequate to support the EPAA mission, and the future Navy ship-based Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) is needed.
        • U.S. and European BMD systems are integrated for battle management at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.



        Phase 2, Operational as of May 2, 2016

        Missile Platforms and Numbers

            • Phase 2 includes interceptors on land in the first "Aegis-Ashore" deployment in Romania. Interceptors have also been mounted on an increasing number of Aegis BMD ships in support of global missions.
            • According to the FY2017 budget submission, by FY2018, the U.S. Navy plans to have 37 Aegis BMD ships, and 49 by FY2021.
            • The first "Aegis-Ashore" site in Romania is equipped with one land-based Aegis SPY-1 radar and 24 SM-3 missiles.
            • Phase 2 achieved a Technical Capability Declaration in 2015, meaning that the site transitioned from the construction to integration phase. In May 2016, NATO declared the Romania Aegis Ashore site operational. NATO declared the IOC of the system in July 2016. 

              SM-3 Variant and Numbers

              • Phase 2 included the SM-3 Block IB variant, also with a velocity of 3 km/sec. This interceptor differs from the Block IA in its "seeker" technology, consisting of a two color seeker, or "kill warhead," and improved optics.
              • The SM-3 Block IB missiles are placed in the MK-41 launcher.
              • According to the FY2017 budget submission, the inventory of SM-3 Block IB interceptors stood at 92 in 2016, with 128 planned for FY17. By FY21, the MDA is planning an inventory of 271 Block IB interceptors.
              • The Block IB is estimated to cost between $12 and 15 million per interceptor.

              Sensors and Combat Systems

              • In Phase 2, sensors were integrated with updated versions of the Aegis combat system. BMD ships carry versions 3.6.1, 4.0.1, and 5.0. 


              Phase 3, Planned Deployment Date: 2018

              Missile Platforms and Numbers

                • Phase 3 will see the introduction of the second “Aegis-Ashore” site in Poland with another SPY-1 radar and 24 SM-3 missiles. This will supplement the deployments at sea and in Romania and will extend coverage over a greater percentage of Europe.

                SM-3 Variant and Numbers

                • Phase 3 will include the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. This new variant will be faster than Block I (4.5 km/sec vs. 3 km/sec.), with a 21 inch diameter for the whole length of the missile allowing for more fuel and hence a more powerful motor. This will give the system an “enhanced” capability to address intermediate-range ballistic missiles and potentially a “limited” capability to address intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
                  • The United States is collaborating with Japan to jointly develop the Block IIA interceptor. The first successful intercept test of the Block IIA interceptor occurred on February 3, 2017. A second intercept test in June 2017 failed. An MDA review of that test stated that the cause of the failure was a mistaken input by a tactical datalink controller, who accidentally identified the target as friendly thereby causing the SM-3 missile to self-destruct. Two earlier flight tests, in 2015, were successful.
                  • More than 240 interceptors have been delivered to U.S. and Japanese navies.
                  • Four Block IIAs are planned for delivery in FY2018, with an additional 20 planned for FY2021.

                Sensors and Combat Systems

                  • In Phase 3, the United States will deploy both the Airborne Infrared (ABIR) sensor platform, a system designed to track significantly larger numbers of incoming missiles, with the goal of being able to track “hundreds” of missiles simultaneously. The Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS), a similar system, was canceled in 2013.
                  • Aegis BMD ships are scheduled to be equipped with version 5.1 of the combat system software in this time-frame.
                  • Phase 3 of the EPAA is scheduled to include an “engage on remote” capability for Aegis interceptors to conduct operations based entirely on off-board radar information, thereby expanding the range of the Aegis systems. In this capability, the interceptor can be both launched and guided to intercept by sensors remote from the launching ship.


                    Phase 4, Cancelled March 2013

                    Missile Platforms and Numbers

                      • The platforms supporting the SM-3 interceptors under Phase 4 would have remained the same as those deployed under Phase 3 – sea-based platforms and the “Aegis-Ashore” deployments in Romania and Poland.

                      SM-3 Variant and Numbers

                      • The SM-3 Block IIB; planned numbers unknown. Was planned to have an improved seeker and a higher performance booster, with a velocity of 5-5.5 km/sec. Was expected to marginally improve the Block IIA’s “limited” capability to counter ICBMs.
                      • According to the Defense Science Board (2011), the SM-3 IIB's planned mission to intercept targets prior to the deployment of multiple warheads or penetration aids – known as "early intercept" – requires "Herculean effort and is not realistically achievable, even under the most optimistic set of deployment, sensor capability, and missile technology assumptions.”
                      • The Block IIB was in the conceptual stage.




                      Category and Description

                      Missile Defense

                      Fact Sheet, February 2009

                      Press Contacts: Wade Boese, Research Director, (202) 463-8270 x104

                      President George W. Bush announced Dec. 17, 2002 that the United States would begin fielding the initial elements of a limited ballistic missile defense system in 2004. As of February 2009, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) reports having deployed 28 ground-based missile interceptors, divided between Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The United States also possesses 18 warships equipped with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, a system intended to counter short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles as of January 2009. The U.S. missile defense system relies on four fixed radar facilities at Shemya, Alaska, Beale Air Force Base, California, Fylingdales in the United Kingdom, and Thule, Greenland. The network also includes four mobile X-band radars, and a sea-based X-band radar (SB-X), currently deployed in the Pacific Ocean.

                      Developing and deploying ballistic missile defenses ranked high among the priorities of the George W. Bush administration.. In June 2002, Bush withdrew the United States from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which had barred Washington and Moscow from deploying nationwide defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. The administration also aggressively sought foreign partners for the U.S. program and, during Bush’s last year in office, reached deals to deploy missile interceptors in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic.

                      Still, the technology remains unproven .Intercept tests have involved substitute components in highly scripted scenarios. In thirteen tests, the Pentagon has hit a mock warhead eight times. In the most recent test, conducted on December 5, 2008, the interceptor successfully destroyed the mock warhead; however, the incoming missile failed to deploy countermeasures meant to fool the interceptor into missing its target.

                      Pentagon officials acknowledge that the initial system will be rudimentary. But they argue that some defense is better than none at all. In addition, they assert that the only way to conduct more strenuous and realistic testing of the system is to deploy it..

                      For more than five decades, the United States has intermittently researched and worked on missile defenses. The planned deployment this fall will mark the second time that the United States has moved to deploy a defense against long-range ballistic missiles. The first effort, Safeguard, was shut down within a few months of being declared operational in October 1975 because Congress concluded the defense was too expensive and ineffectual. Under Safeguard, which Washington deployed in a configuration to comply with the ABM Treaty, the United States sought to protect an offensive U.S. missile base located in North Dakota.

                      The Bush administration inherited seven main missile defense programs, including the ground-based missile interceptor system and two related satellite programs. For the most part, the Bush administration continued work on these same programs, although it recast some, cut others, and added new projects. It canceled one sea-based system—the Navy Area Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System—and significantly down-sized a space-based laser initiative, while commencing new efforts to develop interceptors to attack multiple targets and to strike enemy missiles early in their flights.

                      During the Clinton administration, Republicans repeatedly asserted that the development of working missile defenses was being hindered by a lack of political will, not scientific or engineering challenges. However, several missile defense programs have fallen further behind schedule and suffered setbacks due to technical difficulties under the Bush administration. An aircraft designed to be armed with a powerful laser—known as the Airborne Laser—is now more than two years behind schedule and may be shelved. One of the two inherited satellite programs has been overhauled and renamed, while the other has far exceeded cost and schedule estimates. In addition, the Pentagon’s ground- and sea-based missile interceptors have experienced schedule and testing delays due to problems with their kill vehicles, which are the components intended to seek out and collide with enemy warheads.

                      In general, the Bush administration reorganized missile defense programs, placing all of them under one big tent (the Missile Defense Agency) rather than working on each one in isolation. And, whereas previous administrations drew a distinction between theater defenses (those designed to hit short- and medium-range ballistic missiles) and strategic defenses (those intended to intercept long-range missiles/ICBMs), the Bush administration did not, claiming to pursue a general research and development program for a layered missile defense comprised of many different types of systems and capabilities. Nevertheless, the Pentagon maintains individual program offices for each system, albeit with an eye toward sharing technology among the systems and exploring how they might operate together. In addition, the Pentagon is actively pushing to expand some of the earlier theater missile defense programs to try and tackle the strategic mission. ICBMs travel farther, faster, and are more likely to employ countermeasures intended to fool defenses than shorter-range missiles. The ABM Treaty permitted the development of theater missile defense systems but prohibited work on nationwide strategic defenses.

                      At this time, only the ground-based interceptor system has been tested against strategic ballistic missile targets, although the Pentagon has started to investigate whether some radars and sensors used in theater systems might also be capable of tracking a strategic ballistic missile. Preliminary findings are encouraging, according to the Pentagon, which has declined to provide specific test results.

                      The Obama administration has expressed general support for the idea of national missile defense, but indicated that some Bush-era programs may be up for review. According the to White House website, the administration “will support missile defense, but ensure that it is developed in a way that is pragmatic and cost-effective; and, most importantly, does not divert resources from other national security priorities until we are positive the technology will protect the American public.” This sentiment has been echoed by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

                      The following chart provides a brief look at each of the Pentagon’s major missile defense programs. It contains information on what type of ballistic missile each defense would be intended to counter and at which stage of the enemy missile’s flight an attempted intercept would take place. Also included are Pentagon estimates on when each defense may have an initial, rudimentary capability as well as when it could be fully operational.

                      Ballistic Missile Basics

                      Ballistic missiles are powered by rockets initially but then they follow an unpowered, free-falling trajectory toward the target. They are classified by the maximum distance that they can travel, which is a function of how powerful the missile’s engines (rockets) are and the weight of the missile’s warhead. To add more distance to a missile’s range, rockets are stacked on top of each other in a configuration referred to as staging. There are four general classifications of ballistic missiles:

                      • Short-range ballistic missiles, traveling less than 1,000 kilometers (approximately 620 miles)

                      • Medium-range ballistic missiles, traveling between 1,000–3,000 kilometers (approximately 620-1,860 miles)

                      • Intermediate-range ballistic missiles, traveling between 3,000–5,500 kilometers (approximately 1,860-3,410 miles)

                      • Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), traveling more than 5,500 kilometers

                      Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles are referred to as theater ballistic missiles, whereas ICBMs or long-range ballistic missiles are described as strategic ballistic missiles. The ABM Treaty prohibited the development of nationwide strategic defenses, but permitted development of theater missile defenses.

                      Ballistic missiles have three stages of flight:

                      • The boost phase begins at launch and lasts until the rocket engines stop firing and pushing the missile away from Earth. Depending on the missile, this stage lasts between three and five minutes. During much of this time, the missile is traveling relatively slowly, although toward the end of this stage an ICBM can reach speeds of more than 24,000 kilometers per hour. The missile stays in one piece during this stage.

                      • The midcourse phase begins after the rockets finish firing and the missile is on a ballistic course toward its target. This is the longest stage of a missile’s flight, lasting up to 20 minutes for ICBMs. During the early part of the midcourse stage, the missile is still ascending toward its apogee, while during the latter part it is descending toward Earth. It is during this stage that the missile’s warhead, as well as any decoys, separate from the delivery vehicle.

                      • The terminal phase begins when the missile’s warhead re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and it continues until impact or detonation. This stage takes less than a minute for a strategic warhead, which can be traveling at speeds greater than 3,200 kilometers per hour.

                      Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles may not leave the atmosphere, have separating warheads, or be accompanied by decoys or other countermeasures.


                      Ground-Based Midcourse Defense

                      (Referred to as National Missile Defense by the Clinton administration)

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • The key element of the ground-based midcourse defense is a ground-based missile interceptor consisting of a powerful multistage booster and an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV), which separates from the booster in space and seeks out its target through radar updates and use of its onboard visual and infrared sensors.

                      • The EKV destroys its target by colliding with it. This process is referred to as hit-to-kill.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • The projected system’s goal is to intercept strategic ballistic missile warheads in the midcourse stage.


                      • To date, the system has had eight successful intercept attempts in twelve developmental tests.

                      • The most recent test, on Dec. 5, 2008, was successful; however, the target missile failed to deploy countermeasures meant to fool the interceptor into tracking the wrong target.


                      • All the intercept tests to date have involved substitute components in highly scripted scenarios. A C-band transponder on the target provides tracking data used to formulate the system’s initial intercept plan; the target and interceptor fly the same trajectories in every test; the intercepts take place at slower speeds and lower altitudes than what would be expected in a real attack; the interceptor is preprogrammed with information on what the target looks like before the intercept attempt; and the tests do not involve realistic decoys that a potential adversary might use to trick the system into hitting the wrong object. Lt. General Henry Obering, until November 21, 2008, the Director of the MDA, testified before Congress on April 1, 2008 that missile defense tests are “increasing in operational realism.”

                      • The Pentagon is currently planning to deploy six missile interceptors, at Fort Greely, Alaska, and four more interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, by early 2005. Another 10 interceptors are to be deployed at FortGreely before the end of 2005.

                      • There are no plans to fire interceptors from FortGreely for testing purposes. .

                      • The interceptors under the Clinton plan were to have been supported by a land-based X-band radar, but the Bush administration also developed a sea-based X-band radar (SBX). There is currently one SBX radar mounted on a mobile modified oil rig in the Pacific Ocean. SBX was used on Dec. 5, 2008, to help provide tracking data to an interceptor during a successful missile defense test.

                      • Bush’s plans also called for the missile interceptors to be supported by an upgraded, although less capable, early-warning radar on ShemyaIsland at the western tip of the Aleutian Islands chain. This radar, known as the Cobra Dane radar, is only be able to track missiles fired from the direction of Asia because the radar is fixed to face northwest.

                      • MDA is also exploring the construction of a third missile defense site in Europe. The Bush administration signed a deal with Poland on August 20, 2008, to place ten missile interceptors on Polish territory. The Bush administration also won the approval of the Czech government on April 3, 2008, to build a tracking radar facility in the CzechRepublic.

                      • The United States is upgrading two foreign-based, early-warning radars to help track ballistic missiles launched from the direction of the Middle East. One radar (Fylingdales) is located in the United Kingdom and the other is at Thule Air Base in Greenland. Fylingdales has been upgraded and is operational, while the Thule-based radar will be integrated into the missile defense system by the end of fiscal year 2009.


                      Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)

                      (Referred to as Navy Theater Wide by the Clinton administration)

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • The key elements of the proposed sea-based defense are a ship-based missile (Standard Missile- 3, or SM-3) and the Aegis combat system, an advanced system that can detect and track more than 100 targets simultaneously while directing a ship’s weapons to counter incoming air, surface, and submarine threats.

                      • The SM-3 is a hit-to-kill missile comprised of a three-stage booster with a kill vehicle.

                      • The SM-3 is considered too slow to intercept a strategic ballistic missile.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • Initially, the Aegis BMD is geared toward defending against short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their midcourse phase with an emphasis on the ascent stage.

                      • The Aegis system is capable of tracking ICBMs, but is not configured to intercept them.

                      • A faster SM-3 is being developed that is intended to have some capability to intercept ICBMs. The upgraded SM-3, known as the Block IIA, is not expected until 2015.


                      • The system has a record of fourteen intercepts in eighteen flight tests. The two most recent tests, both in November 2008, were failures. In a November 1 test, two target missiles and two interceptors were launched from Aegis-equipped destroyers in the Pacific Ocean. One interceptor hit its target, but the other did not. In another test, on November 19, 2008, the interceptor lost track of its target seconds before impact.


                      • As of January 2009, the U.S. Navy has eighteen ships outfitted with the Aegis BMD system. Sixteen of these ships are deployed in the Pacific Ocean, leaving two in the Atlantic.

                      • Between 2011 and 2021, the Navy hopes to build an Aegis force of 84 ships: 22 cruisers and 62 destroyers.


                      Airborne Laser (ABL)

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • The key element of the proposed ABL system is a modified Boeing 747 plane equipped with a chemical oxygen-iodine laser.

                      • The laser beam is produced by a chemical reaction.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • Although the Pentagon originally aimed to field the ABL against theater ballistic missiles, the Pentagon now contends the ABL may have an inherent capability against strategic ballistic missiles as well.

                      • The expanded ABL objective is to shoot down all ranges of ballistic missiles in their boost phase.


                      • The first ABL test plane made its inaugural flight on July 18, 2002. The plane was not equipped with the laser.

                      • By 2007, an ABL test plane had successfully tracked a target and hit it with a low-power laser. The target was not a ballistic missile, however, but was mounted on another aircraft.

                      • Although Clinton administration plans first projected an ABL intercept attempt to take place in 2003, development delays have led the Pentagon to push back such a test several times. It is now expected to take place in 2009.


                      • The Government Accountability Office estimates that ABL will be operational sometime in 2016-2017.


                      Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • THAAD’s main components are a missile comprised of a single rocket booster with a separating kill-vehicle that seeks out its target with the help of a specifically designed THAAD radar.

                      • The THAAD kill vehicle is hit-to-kill.

                      • THAAD missiles are fired from a truck-mounted launcher.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • THAAD’s mission is to intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles at the end of their midcourse stage and in the terminal stage. Intercepts could take place inside or outside the atmosphere.


                      • The system had two successful intercept attempts in the summer of 1999 after experiencing six test failures between April 1995 and March 1999.

                      • The THAAD missile was redesigned, and testing resumed in July 2006.

                      • THAAD has tested successfully five times since being redesigned. In two other tests the interceptor was not launched due to malfunctions of the target missiles.


                      • Still in testing and development, however, the first THAAD battery was activated in May 2008.


                      Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3)

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • PAC-3 consists of a one-piece, hit-to-kill missile interceptor fired from a mobile launching station, which can carry 16 PAC-3 missiles.

                      • The missile is guided by an independent radar that sends its tracking data to the missile through a mobile engagement control station.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • PAC-3 is designed to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in their terminal stage at lower altitudes than the THAAD system.


                      • During earlier developmental testing, the system struck nine out of 10 targets.

                      • In four, more difficult operational tests between February and May 2002 that involved multiple interceptors and targets, seven PAC-3s were to be fired at five targets. Of the seven PAC-3s, two destroyed their targets, one hit but did not destroy its target, one missed its target, and three others did not launch.

                      • PAC-3s destroyed two Iraqi short-range ballistic missiles during the 2003 conflict and shot down a U.S. fighter jet. Earlier Patriot models also deployed to the region shot down nine Iraqi missiles and a British combat aircraft.


                      • PAC-3 is now considered operational.

                      • As of July 2004, 175 PAC-3 interceptors had been delivered to the Army.


                      Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS)

                      (Previously referred to as Space-Based Infrared System-low (SBIRS-low))

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • STSS will initially comprise two satellites, but the constellation could expand to as many as 30 satellites.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • STSS satellites are expected to support U.S. missile defense systems by providing tracking data on missiles during their entire flight.


                      • Two developmental STSS satellites are to be launched in fiscal year 2009. The SBIRS-low program had called for the first launch of a satellite in 2006.


                      • The first next-generation STSS satellite is to be launched in 2011.

                      • Two satellites would provide little, if any, operational capability. The Pentagon estimates that at least 18 satellites would need to be deployed to provide coverage of key regions of concern. Worldwide coverage could require up to 30 satellites.


                      Space-Based Infrared System-high (SBIRS-high)

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • SBIRS-high will be comprised of four satellites in geosynchronous orbit and sensors on two host satellites in a highly elliptical orbit.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • SBIRS-high’s primary objective is to provide early warning of global ballistic missile launches.


                      • Currently there are two SBIRS geosynchronous satellites orbiting the Earth, along with two SBIRS sensors mounted on host satellites in highly elliptical orbit.

                      • The program has cost at least $6 billion more than expected, and is several years behind schedule.


                      • The first sensor in highly elliptical orbit—HEO-1—was certified for operations by U.S. Strategic Command in December 2008. The second sensor—HEO-2—is expected to come online in the first quarter of 2009.


                      Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI)

                      Program & Key Elements

                      • KEI will be comprised of three powerful boosters and a separating kill vehicle. The booster is expected to travel at least six kilometers per second, which is comparable to an ICBM.

                      • The kill vehicle will not carry an explosive warhead but is designed to destroy its target through the force of a collision.

                      • The Pentagon is developing mobile land- and sea-based versions of KEI, as well as fixed land-based units.

                      Designed to Counter

                      • KEI is intended to destroy strategic ballistic missiles during their first minutes of flight when their rocket engines are still burning.


                      • On Dec. 3, 2003, the Pentagon awarded Northrop Grumman a contract worth up to $4.5 billion to develop KEI over eight years.


                      • The first KEI booster flight is planned for 2009.

                      • The Pentagon awarded the KEI contract several months after the independent American Physical Society released a study asserting that boost-phase intercepts would be technically possible under very limited circumstances

                      System Tests

                      General Information

                          • In April 2011, the United States conducted its first successful SM-3 test against an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM). The test involved a Block IA missile and an AN/TPY-2 radar. The test was also the first to use remote tracking data; the radar used to track the target was forward-based hundreds of miles away instead of on the ship. Additional tests of the Block IB missile are ongoing.

                            Test 1

                            (Oct. 25, 2012)

                            • Targets: 1 medium range ballistic missile (MRBM), 2 short range ballistic missiles (SRBM), 2 cruise missiles
                            • Sensor: AN/TPY-2
                            • Weapon Systems: Aegis BMD, THAAD, Patriot
                            • Results: THAAD intercepted MRBM; PAC-3 intercepted SRBM and cruise missile; Aegis SM-2 IIIA intercepted cruise missile; Aegis SM-3 IA failed to intercept SRBM.

                            Test 2

                            (May 21, 2014)

                            Targets: Simulated ballistic missile target
                            Sensor: SPY-1 radar
                            Weapon Systems: SM-3 Block IB guided missile from the Vertical Launch System (Aegis Ashore). Test meant to test capability of Phase 2 of the EPAA. 
                            Results: Aegis acquired, tracked, and engaged the simulated target. The test objective was to confirm the functionality of Aegis Ashore by launched a land-based SM-3. 


                            Test 3


                            (October 17, 2014)




                            Targets: MRBM
                            Sensor: AN/SPY-1
                            Weapon Systems: Aegis Baseline 9.C1 Weapon System. 
                            Results: Successful.  Test designated (FTX)-20. The objective of the Discrimination Sensor Technology associated operation was to demonstrate that the Aegis weapon system can launch an SM-3, engage and destroy a ballistic missile solely on tracks from remote airborne sensors. For this test, an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) with Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS-B) was used. The test was intended to improve Phase 2 of the EPAA. 
                            Test 4
                            (November 6, 2014)
                            Targets: 1 SRBM target, 2 low-flying cruise missile targets
                            Sensor: AN/SPY-1
                            Weapon Systems: Aegis BMD (SM-3 Block IB and SM-2 Block IIIA missiles) 
                            Results: This successful test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-25 (FTM-25), was the first live-fire event of the Aegis Weapon System in IAMD Radar Priority Mode, engaging a ballistic missile target and a raid of cruise missile targets.  The MDA will use test results to improve and enhance the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and support the advancement of Phase 2 of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe.
                            Test 5
                            (February 24, 2015)
                            Targets: 3 SRBM targets
                            Weapon Systems: Aegis BMD (SM-3 Block IB)
                            Results: This test was designated Flight Test Other (FTX)-19. This was the first flight test to assess the ability of the Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system to simulate engagements of a raid consisting of three short-range, separating ballistic missile targets. This was also the first time Aegis BMD 4.0 ships used the DWES capability with live targets. The MDA will use the results to support improving the capabilities of Phase 2 of the EPAA. 
                            Test 6
                            (December 10, 2015)
                            Targets: MRBM 
                            Sensor: AN/SPY-2x
                            Weapon Systems: Aegis Weapon System at Aegis Ashore site
                            Results: Aegis Ashore launched SM-3 Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile from its Vertical Launch System to successfully intercept and destroy target.  The test was the first target intercept by the AAMDS and the first flight for the SM-3 Block IB TU guided missile. The primary purpose of the test, designated Flight Test Operational-02 Event 1a, was to assess the operational effectiveness of the Aegis Ashore capability as part of a larger BMDS architecture.
                            • Vice Admiral James D. Syring, MDA Director, said, "Today's test demonstrated that the same Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capability that has been fielded at sea and operational for years, will soon be operational ashore as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) Phase 2 capability in Romania.  I am very proud of the tremendous effort by the entire government/industry team in executing this vitally important mission for our Nation and our allies."
                            Test 7
                             (February 3, 2017)
                            Targets: MRBM 
                            Sensor: AN/SPY-1D(V) using Aegis Baseline 9.C2 system
                            Weapon Systems: Aegis Weapon System at Aegis Ashore site
                            Results: Successful flight test, resulting in first intercept of ballistic missile target using the SM-3 Block IIA, which will be used as part of the EPAA system.  The flight test, designated SM-3 Block IIA Cooperative Development (SCD) Project Flight Test, Standard Missile (SFTM)-01, was the third flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile, and the first intercept test
                            Test 8 
                            (June 21, 2017)
                            Targets: MRBM 
                            Sensor: AN/SPY-1 radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 system
                            Weapon Systems: Aegis Weapon System at Aegis Ashore site
                            Results: The system did not achieve the planned intercept.  The system launched the SM-3 Block IIA missile upon acquiring and tracking the target, but the missile did not intercept the target.  Though currently still in the development and test phase, the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is being designed to operate as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system

                            Posted: July 1, 2017