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US Navy destroyer USS John Finn destroys ICBM with Standard Missile-3 SM-3 Block IIA missile

According to information published by the U.S. Navy on November 17, 2020, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and U.S. Navy USS John Finn (DDG-113) Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System-equipped ship, intercepted and destroyed a threat-representative Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile during a flight test demonstration in the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii, November 16, 2020.


According to information published by the U.S. Navy on November 17, 2020, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and U.S. Navy USS John Finn (DDG-113) Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System-equipped ship, intercepted and destroyed a threat-representative Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile during a flight test demonstration in the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii, November 16, 2020.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 An SM-3 Block IIA is launched from the USS John Finn, an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System-equipped destroyer, November 16, 2020, as part of Flight Test Aegis Weapons System-44 FTM-44. (Picture source U.S. Navy)


At approximately 7:50 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time, (12:50 a.m., Nov. 17, Eastern Standard Time), the ICBM-representative target was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, toward the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii. In this developmental test, the destroyer used engage-on-remote capabilities through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications (C2BMC) network as part of a defense of Hawaii scenario. After receiving tracking data from the C2BMC system, the destroyer launched a SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which destroyed the target.

Based on preliminary data, the test met its primary objective: demonstrate the ability for a SM-3 Block IIA missile to intercept an ICBM target. Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

This event, designated Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-44 (FTM-44), was the sixth flight test of an Aegis BMD-equipped vessel using the SM-3 Block IIA guided missile. FTM-44, originally scheduled for May 2020, was delayed due to restrictions in personnel and equipment movement intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

FTM-44 satisfies a Congressional mandate to evaluate the feasibility of the SM-3 Block IIA missile’s capability to defeat an ICBM threat before the end of 2020. The SM-3 Block IIA was originally designed and built for the Intermediate-range Ballistic Missile threat set.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Weapons System is the naval component of the U.S. Missile Defense System. The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD system. Aegis BMD ships (and Aegis Ashore) receive track data via the C2BMC system, build the fire control solutions, then launch and guide the SM-3 family of missiles to destroy incoming threats. MDA’s mission is to develop and deploy a layered Missile Defense System to defend the U.S., its deployed forces, allies, and friends from missile attacks of all ranges in all phases of flight.

The USS John Finn (DDG-113) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in service with the U.S. Navy. In November 2013, the keel of John Finn was laid down at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Jackson County, Mississippi. The ship was launched 28 March 2015, christened on 2 May 2015 and was commissioned on 15 July 2017 in Pearl Harbor.  £

The UUS John Finn is a Flight IIA in the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and as such, she features several improvements in terms of ballistic missile defense, an embarked air wing (two MH-60R Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System helicopters), and the inclusion of mine-detecting ability. 

The UUS John Finn is powered by four GE LM 2500 gas turbines, each rated at 33,600 hp with a power turbine speed of 3,600 rpm, driving two shafts with controllable pitch propellers. She can reach a top speed of 31 knots (57 km/h; 36 mph) with a maximum cruising range of 4,400 nmi (8,100 km) at 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph). 

The UUS John Finn is armed with one 32 cells, one 64 cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems, 96 × RIM-66 SM-2 surface-to-air missiles, BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile or RUM-139 VL-Asroc anti-submarine missiles, one 5 in (130 mm)/62 naval gun, two 25 mm Mk 38 automatic cannons, four .50 cal (12.7 mm) machineguns, two Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes and one 20mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System).

The RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) is a ship-based missile system used by the United States Navy to intercept short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles as a part of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The SM-3 block IIA is a joint Raytheon/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries project, block IIA adds a larger diameter kill vehicle that is more maneuverable, and carries another sensor/ discrimination upgrade. It has a maximum firing range of 1,200 km.