The crew of the destroyer Ross had a bit of fun Tuesday, shooting off an interceptor missile from its forward launcher and achieving the first ballistic missile target intercept in a European exercise.
“That was bright!” one watch-stander can be be heard saying in the background, over laughs and high-fives.
The SM-3 Block IA launch took place in the North Atlantic, aimed at a Terrier Orion ballistic missile target — a 2,800-lb two-stage rocket — launched from Great Britain’s Hebrides range, located off the northwest coast of Scotland.
The SM-3 was intercepted in space, according to a 6th Fleet release.
The launch was part of a multi-national ballistic missile defense exercise involving ships from the Netherlands and Spain, in addition to the destroyer The Sullivans, which also fired an SM-2 on the range in an air defense exercise, the release said.
In addition to this being the first intercept of a ballistic missile target in Europe, the Ross’ shot was also the first SM-3 fired on a non-U.S. range, the release said.
The Ross is one of four BMD-enabled destroyers based in Rota, Spain. Ross and her sister ships have been busy in theater and have been on the front lines as Russia has made its presence increasingly known in the region with its Navy and air forces.
Vice Adm. James Foggo, who heads 6th Fleet, said in a recent interview that the destroyers have given him much more flexibility to be responsive in Europe.
“It’s a fantastic capability because we can keep two of those guys comfortably out to sea at any one time,” he said. “I can send one up north, I can send one to the Eastern Med — I can be in hotspots in a matter of hours, not days, because we are in the theater.”
You can read the whole interview here.