The U.S. military is developing Navy destroyers to take out hypersonic missiles and a ship off the coast of Hawaii has successfully tested the potential innovation, according to Warren Maven editor Kris Osborn on Fox News.
An “engage on remote” intercept of an ICBM test Nov. 16 was successful from ship-fired SM-3 IIAs, Osborn reported.
“In this developmental test, the destroyer used engage-on-remote capabilities through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications network as part of a defense of Hawaii scenario,” a Missile Defense Agency statement read, per the report. “After receiving tracking data from the C2BMC system, the destroyer launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which destroyed the target.”
Pentagon weapons developers are inspired by the successful test and might weigh its benefits for sea-based missile defense systems against hypersonic missiles.
“The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat,” Missile Defense Agency Director, Vice Adm. Jon Hill said in a statement, per Fox News.
The naval missile system will allow defense systems multiple intercept “shots” and provide better defense than land-launched options, which are limited where they can be launched from.
“While an ICBM is likely to be at a higher altitude in space during the major portions of the mid-course phase, the period of time just after it leaves the earth’s atmosphere, or the minutes right before it reenters the earth’s atmosphere upon descent seems to present an optimal tactical window for an SM-3 IIA,” Osborn wrote. “A ship operating not far off the coast of the U.S., or near enemy shores in the vicinity of a potential enemy launch location, could provide a unique opportunity for SM-3 IIA-armed destroyers to fire intercepts at ICBMs operating just above the boundary of the earth’s atmosphere.”
The SM-3 IIAs might be able to reach “in-between space,” he added.
“The areas just above and below the earth’s atmospheric boundary may be too high for certain ballistic missile defenses, such as ship-fired SM-3s, to reach, yet simultaneously be too low for space-traveling GBIs [ground based interceptors) to hit,” he continued. “Could the newer SM-3 IIA reach this area? Why not? Especially if it is empowered by extended and networked radar tracking systems and had the engineering to travel at the necessary speeds to create a collision.”
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