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U.S. Navy proves Kinetic Warhead's
capability for Theater Wide Missile Defense

IMC photo depicting KWS and rocket motor separation in guideway system

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By NAVSEA Public Affairs

        The U.S. Navy successfully tested a surrogate STANDARD Missile-3 (SM-3) Kinetic Warhead (KW) for its theater wide missile defense system. The test was the last in a series of four developmental sled tests conducted at the High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

        The test series was conducted to develop a new technique for lethality testing of the exo-atmospheric SM-3 KW on the ground where test conditions can be better controlled. The new technique also allows high speed full-scale testing of the SM-3 KW at representative Navy Theater Wide (NTW) system intercept speeds. A kinetic warhead destroys its target with the shear force of its impact, while a conventional warhead relies on the force of an explosion to help destroy a target. Since the actual SM-3 KW could not withstand the G-forces associated with high-speed sled testing, a "surrogate" was developed with the same size, shape, and weight, but with some of the mass redistributed to add strength.

        The June 24, 1999 final developmental sled test in the series was a full-up high speed checkout test (HSCT), which demonstrated a high-speed impact of a full-scale SM-3 KW surrogate travelling at about 6,600 feet per second against a replica Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM) payload. The HSCT was a complete success, not only demonstrating development of the new technique, but also demonstrating SM-3 lethality against the replica payload. The results of the HSCT, combined with ongoing analysis supported by modeling and simulation, and upcoming flight tests against similar threat targets, demonstrates the U.S. Navy's continuing progress toward fielding an effective Theater Wide TBMD capability.

        The Program Executive Office for Theater Surface Combatants in Arlington, Va., sponsors the development and production of the SM-3 missile. The Navy Theater Wide Program Office (PMS 452) is responsible for program management and oversight. The Navy Standard Missile Office (PMS 422) acts as the overall program executing agent. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, executes the testing and analysis program through the High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base. Battelle Inc. manufactures the Kinetic Warhead surrogate in Huntsville, Ala., with instrumentation and engineering support supplied by SECOTEC in Huntsville, Ala. Raytheon Systems Company manufactures the SM-3 Missile in Tucson, Ariz. and in Camden, Ark.

-USN-

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The surrogate kinetic warhead (KW) for the Navy's theater wide missile defense system is seen here travelling at about 6,600 feet per second during a successful test conducted on June 24, 1999 at the high speed test track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. (Official U.S. Navy photo)

The surrogate KW for the Navy's theater wide missile defense system is shown at the point of impact with a replica missile target payload during a successful test conducted on June 24, 1999 at the high speed test track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. (Official U.S. Navy photo)

The surrogate KW and rocket motor separation for the Navy's theater wide missile defense system are shown at the high speed test track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico during a test on June 24, 1999. (Official U.S. Navy photo)

The surrogate KW and rocket motor separation for the Navy's theater wide missile defense system are shown in side and top down view in the guideway system at the high speed test track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico during a test on June 24, 1999. (Official U.S. Navy photo)