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Raytheon announced on 12 September that the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) completed a successful intercept flight test in cooperation with the US Navy (USN) off the coast of Hawaii. An SM-3 Block IB missile intercepted a ballistic missile target, marking the first time Japan has tested the sophisticated interceptor as announced by MDA.

The target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, and the interceptor was launched from the Japanese vessel ATAGO, verifying the newest ballistic missile defence engagement capability of the upgraded destroyer. The flight test mission is a significant milestone in missile defence cooperation between Japan and the US: Japan currently employs the SM-3 Block IA interceptor, but the IB variant's improved two-colour seeker and upgraded throttling divert and attitude control system enable engagements with a broader set of threats.

“The Standard Missile-3 family consistently demonstrates capability against sophisticated threats, both on land and at sea,” commented Raytheon Missile Systems’ President, Dr Taylor W Lawrence. “This test underlines the importance of allied ballistic missile defence interoperability and the powerful results we generate when we work together with our allies.”

The recent test marks the first time Japan has taken part in a live intercept test for the SM-3 Block 1B. (Photo: US Navy)

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