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USS Hopper Supports Ballistic Missile Defense in “Sky Hunter”

USS Hopper Supports Ballistic Missile Defense in “Sky Hunter”

By Ensign Jamie Lynn De Coster, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

Pacific Ocean -- (NNS) February 28, 2006 -- USS Hopper (DDG 70), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer homeported at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, participated in the successful “Sky Hunter” Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) test event off the coast of southern California Feb. 15.

Using a recent upgrade to its Aegis weapons system, Hopper was tasked with detecting and tracking a Minuteman III Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., during the boost and initial ballistic portions of flight, and providing cueing data to SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare) Space Systems Center (SSC) in San Diego and the Joint National Test Center in Colorado Springs for analysis.

In a role known as long range surveillance and track (LRS&T), Hopper has the capability to detect and track ICBMs and report track data to shore-based components of the missile defense system.

It can further provide fire control data to the ground-based ICBM interceptors located at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“We get invaluable training and technical support from civilian Aegis experts during these missions,” said Fire Controlman 2nd class James Wickham. “I have learned a lot about our system – its capabilities and the future of BMD."

At-sea tracking events, such as “Sky Hunter,” have verified the capability of surface ships to track ICBMs and demonstrated the reliability of transmitting track data necessary to support missile defense situational awareness, target cueing and engagements.

Hopper has participated in three successful BMD missions. “Sky Hunter” and “Glory Trip-189” tracked ICBMs launched from Vandenberg.

During “Stellar Valkyrie” in November, Hopper provided cueing and track data on a medium range ballistic missile, which USS Lake Erie (CG 70) acquired and engaged with the newest variant of Standard Missile (SM-3).

Hopper’s technicians are excited by the new mission area and the opportunity to flex their system.

Thirteen Aegis destroyers are currently equipped with the LRS&T capability.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).