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Japanese warship passes missile test


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Japanese navy scored another missile hit.

The destroyer JS Myoko became yesterday the second Japan Maritime Self Defense Force warship to blast a drone missile out of the sky using its sea-based Aegis ballistic missile system.

This means that there have been 20 hits out of 24 attempts since the Defense Missile Agency began checking the Pentagon's sea-based Aegis missile test system in 2002.

Japanese warships have been involved in three tests, recording one miss last year.

Yesterday's high-level intercept occurred at 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean at 6:07 p.m.

The drone missile was fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai, at 6 p.m.

The 428-foot destroyer Myoko, the third of four Japanese destroyers outfitted with the $40 million Aegis ballistic missile defense, detected the launch four minutes later.

The Pentagon said the Japanese warship will now return to Japan loaded with additional SM-3 missiles.

“;The ship will arrive in Japan ready to provide additional ballistic missile defense capability against the increasing ballistic missile threat present in that region,”; the Missile Defense Agency said in a written statement, a veiled reference to North Korea.

Two Pearl Harbor warships—the destroyer USS Paul Hamilton and cruiser USS Lake Erie—also tracked the drone missile but did not fire any interceptors.

Yesterday's test was to validate the potential of the Aegis weapon system, installed on the 9,500-ton Myoko last year.

The Aegis command and control system integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK-41 vertical launching system and the SM-3 missile.

The first test, in December 2007, involved the destroyer JS Kongo. A year later the Japanese destroyer JS Chokai successfully searched, detected and tracked a drone fired from Kauai but failed to destroy it for reasons still unclear.

In February 2008 the Lake Erie successfully shot down a U.S. spy satellite in the Aegis system's first real-world mission. The satellite had lost power and become uncontrollable, creating concern it would break up and spread debris as it fell to Earth.

The Navy has 18 cruisers and destroyers equipped with the Aegis long-range surveillance, tracking and missile intercept capabilities, six of them home-ported at Pearl Harbor. They are the Lake Erie, Paul Hamilton, cruiser Port Royal and destroyers Russell, O'Kane and Hopper.