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The first five deployable Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors have been delivered to the U.S. Navy, achieving a key goal in the Defense Department's drive to field a sea-based shield against ballistic missiles, government and industry sources said Dec. 20.
The interceptors were assembled in Tucson, Ariz., by Raytheon Co., the SM-3's prime contractor, and placed in launch canisters at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. They now stand ready to be loaded aboard an Aegis ship. The USS Lake Erie, a cruiser docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, could end up being the recipient of those missiles.
DOD had signaled for more than a year that it wanted to have five SM-3s available for emergency use by the end of 2004.