Over the past few weeks, the Department of Defense has awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) more than $74 million worth of contracts related to its work on the upgraded Aegis air defense system known as "Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense" that aims to upgrade the shipborne Aegis system so that it can shoot down ICBMs. Yesterday, taxpayers got a glimpse of what they've been paying for.

In an announcement quickly echoed across the industrial-military complex by everyone involved -- from Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK), which built the rocket engine, to Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), which built the Standard Missile-3, to Lockheed itself -- Lockheed announced yesterday that its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense successfully "killed" a medium range ballistic missile target in a test of the system.

As described in the announcement: "U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS Lake Erie (CG-70) received tracking information from space tracking and surveillance satellites and launched the missile before the shipboard SPY-1 radar detected the target. The Aegis BMD Weapon System then guided the missile using tracking information from the space-based assets until the target was detected and tracked by the SPY-1 radar. The shipboard radar transmitted guidance commands to the SM-3 guided missile that intercepted the target."

Lockheed said in a statement that this is the ninth time in three years that the USS Lake Erie has been able to use Aegis BMD in tests against cruise and ballistic missile targets.

"Using accurate tracking information from a satellite to flexibly enable expanded battlespace and the capabilities of the sea-based Aegis BMD system may prove to be one of the program's most significant milestones," Nick Bucci, director of BMD development programs for Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training business, was quoted as saying.



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