May 30 – A US missile defense test that an official said was delayed off Kauai earlier this week due to the presence of a Russian surveillance vessel was carried out today with a salute of SM missiles -6 fired by a vessel that failed to intercept a vessel at medium range. ballistic missile target.
The Missile Defense Agency, in cooperation with the US Navy, said it had conducted what it called the Aegis Flight Test 31 weapon system.
The objective of the test was to demonstrate the ability of the Aegis vessel configured for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) to detect, track, engage and intercept a medium range ballistic missile target with a salvo of two Standard Missile-6 Dual II (BMD However, an interception was not made, “the agency said in a press release.
Program officials have launched a “thorough examination” to determine the cause of any problems that may have prevented a successful interception, the agency added.
A Russian spy ship that hung in international waters off Kauai for several days had delayed testing of the missile, an official said on Wednesday.
The US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor said in a statement at the time that it was “aware of the Russian vessel operating in international waters near Hawaii and will continue to monitor it for the duration of his stay here. Through maritime patrol aircraft, surface ships and joint capabilities, we can closely monitor all ships in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. “
An official previously said the test was delayed because the United States did not want the Russian ship to “join” the effort.
The Missile Defense Agency said today that “We ran this test in the test window, so there was no delay.” It was not immediately clear whether the Russian ship had left the Hawaiian Islands.
US Naval Institute News, which was the first to report the presence of the vessel, said it was the Russian Navy Vishnya Class Auxiliary General Intelligence Ship, or AGI, Kareliya (SSV-535).
The Vladivostok-based ship is one of seven AGIs specializing in signals intelligence, USNI News said.
The navyrecognition.com website reported in 2017 that the Kareliya had been on standby for more than 10 years until January 2014, when a “full repair and modernization of the vessel” was carried out. After that, he was handed over to the Russian Pacific Fleet.
USNI News said the Russian ship was operating 13 nautical miles west of Kauai in international waters. Territorial waters begin at 12 nautical miles.
“Russia is testing hypersonic weapons and perhaps looking for information on our missile systems that could improve the ability of their hypersonic weapons to penetrate our defenses,” said retired Navy Captain Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the Joint Intelligence Center of US Pacific Command. professor at the University of the Pacific in Hawaii.
He added that the missile defense test “is an intelligence opportunity that is difficult to ignore.”
Riki Ellison, chairman of the nonprofit Missile Defense Alliance, said the test may have been focused on the emerging hypersonic threat – increasing Russian interest.
“The planned test could exploit the wide (Pacific) range to test the US capability on hypersonic missiles on which Russia and China compete with the US,” Ellison said.
If the target missile reproduced the characteristics of a hypersonic missile, it could have been more difficult to hit.
The Missile Defense Agency did not announce in advance that a test would be carried out off Kauai. The agency regularly reveals after the fact the results of missile defense tests, which typically cost several million dollars and involve hundreds of people.