Watch this image: a ship-based anti-ballistic missile launched at night by a guided-missile cruiser

Even if similar pictures have already been published in the past, I find the following image particularly interesting because it was taken on Jun. 27 and shows a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1B interceptor as it leaves the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) after launch during a Missile Defense Agency test in the Pacific Ocean.

The SM-3 Block 1B successfully intercepted a short-range ballistic missile target that had been launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, located on Kauai, Hawaii.

Such SM-3 ship-based missile systems are used by the U.S. Navy to intercept short to intermediate range ballistic missiles as part of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System but they can be used against satellites at the lower end of Low Earth orbit.

In the past, the anti-satellite role was intended to be fulfilled with the ASM-135 ASAT, an air-launched multi stage missile, carried exclusively by the U.S. Air Force’s F-15 Eagle, that was tested but never deployed into active service.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.