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Navy Ship Destroys Ballistic Missile for First Time from Foreign Range

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) to intercept a short-range ballistic missile target, Oct. 20, 2015, in the north Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mike Wright)
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) to intercept a short-range ballistic missile target, Oct. 20, 2015, in the north Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mike Wright)

The USS Ross became the first Navy ship to intercept a ballistic defense missile at a foreign range after a successful launch at a multinational exercise in the North Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday.

The Rota, Spain-based destroyer fired an SM-3 missile and shot down a Terrier Orion ballistic missile flying in space, according to a Navy statement.

The Florida-based USS The Sullivans also fired an SM-2 missile at incoming missiles during the nine-nation Maritime Theater Defense Forum sea demonstration at the United Kingdom’s Hebrides Range, northwest of Scotland.

Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. all provided ships and aircraft for the exercise, while Germany contributed personnel to the combined task group staff.

The exercise recorded several additional firsts, including the first time the allied coalition used its integrated air and missile defense in a scenario with a simultaneous attack from anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Dutch and Spanish vessels became the first foreign ships to transmit ballistic missile defense cues to an Aegis destroyer.

Observers watched the demonstration from the USS Mount Whitney, the Italy-based 6th Fleet flagship. Denmark and Japan did not participate, but each sent representatives to watch the exercise.

Navy officials described the event as an example of U.S. commitment to Europe’s missile defense. Japan’s presence also served as a reminder of ballistic missile defense upgrades in the Asia-Pacific.

On Monday, the USS Benfold, a destroyer that recently received an upgrade to the most advanced version of the Aegis missile defense system, arrived in its new homeport of Yokosuka, Japan.

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