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November 22, 2002

U.S. to deploy Aegis destroyer to guard Israel from Iraqi Scuds

Nice because would knock out scuds at sea before getting to Israel
The U.S. Navy plans to deploy an Aegis-class destroyer in the eastern Mediterranean by January to help guard Israel against an attack by Iraqi Scud missiles.

U.S. officials said a program of six tests of the Aegis will be conducted to develop an emergency deployment sea-based ballistic missile defense against short- to medium-range ballistic missiles.

An Aries target is seen seconds after lift-off from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, in Kauai, Hawaii, on Nov. 22. Three and one-half minutes later the target would be intercepted by a developmental Standard Missile-3, launched from the Pearl Harbor-based Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie.

The first test was successfully conducted Thursday in the Pacific Ocean.

The officials said in January the destroyer will participate in an exercise with Israeli air defense and its air force in an effort to bolster missile defense, Middle East Newsline reported.

They said the U.S. destroyer will remain off the Israeli coast to protect against any Iraqi medium-range missiles fired toward Tel Aviv and the surrounding area.
The Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Navy said the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system successfully intercepted a ballistic missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. On Thursday, a developmental Standard Missile 3 [SM-3] was fired from the Aegis ballistic missile defense cruiser USS Lake Erie and acquired, tracked and diverted into the target.

"This was the third consecutive target intercept," a Defense Department statement said. "The primary objective of this test is to demonstrate the Aegis BMD [ballistic missile defense] system capability to engage the ballistic missile target in the ascent phase of flight."

Officials said the Pentagon has collected extensive engineering evaluation data for analyses in preparation for future flight tests. They said this data will be evaluated to incorporate changes any changes in the system.

"There are no problems with interoperability," a defense official said. "But there are problems with the Aegis radar and its ability to distinguish between a Scud warhead and missile debris. This is a major challenge that the system faces."