US Launches Missile Intercept Test; Calls for Bombing in the Waters Off Hawaii
September 1, 2017 Missile Defense Agency News & William Cole / Honolulu Star-Advertiser & Jessica Else / The Garden Island
The Missile Defense Agency and US Navy sailors aboard the USS John Paul Jones successfully conducted a missile defense flight test during a test off the coast of Hawaii. The US missile successfully intercept a medium-range ballistic missile using SM-6 guided missile. Meanwhile, the National Marine Fisheries Service has approved a five-year USAF plan for bombing practice at sea off Kauai. The munitions used are expected to increase impacts on whales and dolphins in the local waters.
Aegis BMD System Intercepts Target Missile Missile Defense Agency News
Aegis Ashore FTO-02 E1a Flight Test -- December 12, 2015
(August 29, 2017) -- The Missile Defense Agency and US Navy sailors aboard the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a complex missile defense flight test, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target using Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) guided missiles during a test off the coast of Hawaii today.
John Paul Jones detected and tracked a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar, and onboard SM-6 missiles executed the intercept.
"We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase," said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. "We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.
This test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-27 Event 2 (FTM-27 E2), marks the second time that an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target.
Aegis BMD is the naval component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. MDA and the US Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program. Additional information about all elements of the ballistic missile defense system can be found here.
Missile defense technology being developed, tested and deployed by the United States is designed to counter ballistic missiles of all ranges -- short, medium, intermediate and long.
Since ballistic missiles have different ranges, speeds, size and performance characteristics, the Ballistic Missile Defense System is an integrated, "layered" architecture that provides multiple opportunities to destroy missiles and their warheads before they can reach their targets.
The system's architecture includes: * Networked sensors (including space-based) and ground- and sea-based radars for target detection and tracking;
* Ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles for destroying a ballistic missile using either the force of a direct collision, called "hit-to-kill" technology, or an explosive blast fragmentation warhead;
* and a command, control, battle management, and communications network providing the operational commanders with the needed links between the sensors and interceptor missiles.
Missile defense elements are operated by United States military personnel from US Strategic Command, US Northern Command, US Pacific Command, US Forces Japan, US European Command and others. The United States has missile defense cooperative programs with a number of allies, including United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy and many others.
The Missile Defense Agency also actively participates in NATO activities to maximize opportunities to develop an integrated NATO ballistic missile defense capability.
(August 30, 2017) -- The National Marine Fisheries Service has given approval to a five-year Air Force plan for bombing practice at sea off Kauai that reduces munitions used and increases monitoring for impacts to whales and dolphins.
Earthjustice attorney David Henkin, who previously criticized the plan as not doing enough to protect marine mammals, said Tuesday the Air Force "did beef up the monitoring, which is a positive development."
The Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program may use aircraft, including B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers, and F-15, F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighters to release over water weapons including joint air-to-surface standoff missiles with a 1,000-pound warhead; 200 to 250-pound small-diameter glide bombs; high-speed anti-radiation, or HARM, missiles; and joint direct attack munitions, the Air Force said in a previous environmental assessment.
The Air Force said it needs the annual at-sea training at Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility up to Aug. 20, 2022, due to unspecified national security threats that likely revolve around China, with increased air-to-surface exercises directed by the Pentagon.
The fisheries service said since the development of the environmental assessment, which was completed in October, the Air Force identified a reduction in the number of munitions to be used during each exercise. No reason was given for the decrease.
The Air Force also previously said each long-range strike mission would occur over a maximum of five consecutive days a year with about 110 bombs released each time. The impact area is approximately 50 miles off Kauai in waters 15,000 feet deep.
A "finding of no significant impact" signed by the Fisheries Service on Aug. 11 said that in 2017 training would only occur on one day and include eight small-diameter bombs.
"In future years, the number (and) type of munitions are reduced by 40 percent with a maximum of four days of training occurring over a five-day time period," the finding said. Between 38 and 64 weapons would be released annually between 2018 and 2021.
The training for 2018 through 2022 would be conducted on weekdays between June and August, or September through November.
Earthjustice, an environmental group, put the fisheries serv¬ice on notice in June that it believed the federal regulations proposed at the time for the bombing practice violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The fisheries service said it was issuing the "letter of authorization" for the Air Force to go forward with the training after the Air Force decreased the number of munitions it plans to deploy annually, reducing the level of harassment for marine life.
The agency said it worked with the Air Force "to develop a comprehensive marine mammal mitigation and monitoring plan designed to decrease potential impacts to marine mammals."
Monitoring measures will include: * Aerial surveys using long-range sensor pods on aircraft and range cameras at PMRF to monitor before, during and after training.
* Delaying exercises if a marine animal is observed within an exclusion zone to avoid exposure to levels of explosives likely to result in injury or death.
* Shifting the target site as far as possible from an observed marine mammal's location.
* Data from acoustic monitoring using PMRF's hydrophones will be collected and analyzed to better understand the effects of the Air Force bombing.
Henkin said it's preferable to use the hydrophones in real time to monitor for marine animals, and environmental experts are reviewing the Air Force's assertion that the hydrophones wouldn't be suited for that.
"What I can say today, having looked at (the approval for the first time Monday), there have been many improvements made," Henkin said.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act allows, with review and approval, the incidental but not intentional "taking" or harassment of small numbers of marine mammals during activities such as military training, the fisheries serv¬ice said. Deaths or serious injury to whales and dolphins are not anticipated or authorized for the training, the agency said.
Level A harassment has the potential to injure a marine mammal, while Level B harassment has the potential to disturb an animal by causing a disruption of behavioral patterns.
Thirty instances of Level A harassment from the training are projected annually by the fisheries service for whales and dolphins, with 18 for dwarf sperm whales, while nearly 1,200 instances are anticipated for Level B harassment.
The service issued a marine mammal incidental har¬assment authorization for very limited Air Force at-sea bombing off Kauai in 2016. Training on at PMRF:
Loud Noises Could Continue Through Today Jessica Else / The Garden Island
BARKING SANDS (August 30, 2017) -- People living near the US Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility might have heard sirens and other loud noises coming from the base Tuesday, and those noises will be continuing today. It's because of a two-day training exercise.
Training is centered around chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and enhanced conventional weapons (CBRNE) exercises, designed to enhance the training, readiness and capability of security forces and first responders, according to PMRF staff. The exercise is not in response to any specific threat, PMRF staff members said.
"From what I saw it was a great training event," said Capt. Vincent Johnson, PMRF commanding officer.
Sirens and exercise announcements communicated through a mass communications system called the "Giant Voice" could continue to echo from PMRF through today, and people might see those in training in protective CBRNE suits at PMRF.
Staff members at PMRF said the exercise might cause some temporary delays in base access and increased traffic around the base, but measures are being taken to minimize disruption to community and normal base activities.
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