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US Navy tests simultaneous Aegis Defense against missiles, drones

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The US Navy and the Missile Defense Agency have conducted an Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) test using the Aegis combat system against multiple targets at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

The Aegis incorporates computing technologies and radars to terminate short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

It is currently carried by several warships in the US Navy and allied forces such as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy.

Vigilant Wyvern Demonstrations

Called Vigilant Wyvern, the Kauai event comprised a series of trials to validate the performance of the US military’s existing aerial defense platforms in a controlled environment.

During the demonstration, the Aegis identified, traced, and neutralized two short-range ballistic missile targets as it performed an anti-air warfare engagement on two subsonic anti-ship cruise missile drone targets.

The Aegis was deployed from the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Carl Levin (DDG 120), while the targets were deployed from their corresponding stations in the facility.

The ballistic missile targets were neutralized by two Standard Missile 3 Block IA interceptors, while four SM-2 Blk IIIA interceptors were launched to destroy the drone targets.

‘Huge Milestone’

According to the US Navy, the live firing activity served as one of the largest IAMD tests to be conducted in the US Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.

The trial also achieved the region’s first simultaneous ballistic missile defense and anti-warfare raid.

Oct. 25, 2023: Two short-range ballistic missile targets are launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii, as part of Vigilant Wyvern/Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-48, a joint test of the U.S. Navy Program Executive Officer Integrated Warfare Systems and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
Two short-range ballistic missile targets are launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. Photo: Missile Defense Agency

“The success of Vigilant Wyvern is a huge milestone,” Integrated Warfare Systems Program Officer Rear Admr. Seiko Okano stated. “The Navy and [Missile Defense Agency] successfully demonstrated the tremendous capability of Aegis ships defending against an IAMD raid scenario.”

“This test event is the first of its kind and an excellent example of collaboration between organizations, further progressing a unified mission to increase capability. Congratulations to the joint test team and the ship’s crew for an excellent event.”

Preparation for Realistic Raids

The navy noted that progress in the IAMD program will enable vessels to adopt classic air defense with the latest discrimination and tracking capabilities, retaining dominance over “coordinated, simultaneous” assaults.

“The success of this joint test represents a critical step in defending against multiple targets in a realistic raid scenario,” Missile Defense Agency Acting Director Rear Admr. Douglas Williams explained.

“The Aegis weapon system successfully defeated multiple concurrent attacks, showcasing the incredible versatility of both this system and the crew of the USS CARL M. LEVIN. My congratulations to the entire test team in achieving this milestone.”

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