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Aegis interceptor fails to shoot down missile

SM-3 Launch. Missile Defence Agency photo

NEW YORK (BNS): The Japanese navy failed to intercept an incoming ballistic missile during a test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence on Wednesday off Hawaiian island of Kauai.

The failure is a setback for the much touted Aegis system, developed for the US navy with Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor, seeks to provide a comprehensive missile defence shield to naval flotillas. The development comes even as a group of senior Lockheed Martin officials are in New Delhi, offering India the integrated naval defence system.

The US Missile Defence Agency said in a statement that approximately at 11.24 am Tokyo time on November 20 a single Standard Missile -3 (SM-3) Block IA was launched. Approximately two minutes later, the SM-3 failed to intercept the target. There is no immediate explanation for the failed intercept attempt. More information will be available after a thorough investigation.

The interceptor missile was fired from Japanese destroyer JS Chokai. The ballistic missile was fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on Kauai. JS CHOKAI crew members detected and tracked the target using advanced on-board radar. The Aegis Weapon System then developed a fire control solution, and about three minutes later the interceptor was launched. But two minutes later the interceptor failed to shoot down the incoming ballistic missile.

This was the second test of the interceptor system by the Japanese navy, which last year successfully shot down a ballistic missile using the Aegis system. The failure is initially being attributed to some glitch on the interceptor missile.

The Aegis system has by now carried out 20 tests, of which four have failed. On Wednesday's test the agency said, "Target performance, interceptor missile launch and fly out, and operation of the Aegis Weapon System by the crew were successful, but an intercept was not achieved."

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