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This paper presents a global system identification approach for the parametric modeling of both reflection and transmission experiments performed on a linear homogeneous visco-elastic material at normal incidence. It is shown that this global approach leads to improved estimates of the parameters occuring in the analytical model for the reflection and transmission coefficients of a visco-elastic plate immersed in water. The plane wave propagation model takes into account the absorption and dispersion in the material as well as an analytic diffraction correction for the beam spread. The proposed inverse procedure Is based on a maximum likelihood estimator.