JHS Grad Participates In Historic U.S. Navy Exercise

By Benjamin Cox on November 19, 2020 at 10:02am

An SM-3 Block IIA is launched from the USS John Finn, an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System-equipped destroyer, November 16, 2020, as part of Flight Test Aegis Weapons System-44 FTM-44. (Picture source U.S. Navy)

A former Jacksonville resident was recently a part of a historic exercise with the U.S Navy in the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday morning. The U.S. Navy has shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM over the Pacific Ocean as a part of a new ballistic missile defense system exercise.

The test, which comes on the heels of the revealing of a larger North Korean ICBM in October that could potentially strike the U.S. East Coast, is the first time the United States has shot down an ICBM with anything other than a ground-based interceptor, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John Finn, equipped with Aegis Baseline 9 communication systems, received a track from an external sensor through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications network. The ship then fired on and destroyed the target just before midnight Central Standard Time outside of Hawaii.

2018 Jacksonville High School graduate Madison Rafferty, a third class Gunner’s Mate was a part of the ship’s crew during the exercise. Rafferty is currently stationed in San Diego, California.

According to U.S. Defense News, called it a big accomplishment in the Navy’s Aegis program, a program in development since the 1960s meant to counter act any missile attacks against the United State’s mainland. The system combines highly sensitive radars with sophisticated missiles to combat air threats. It was primarily developed to defend aircraft carriers but as the U.S. has become more invested in ballistic missile defense, the service has expanded the capabilities to include protection from nuclear missile attacks from countries.