A Raytheon Company Standard Missile-3 Block IB fired on June 27 from the USS Lake Erie has destroyed another ballistic missile target. The test marks the 21st successful intercept for the SM-3 program, a critical piece of the United States’ Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense.
“Today’s flight test was the second, back-to-back successful intercept for the newest variant of SM-3, and it further increases our confidence in this weapon’s defensive capabilities,” said Dr. Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. “We will continue to increase the complexity of the test scenarios as we demonstrate the full capability of the SM-3 Block IB against more advanced threats.”
The SM-3 is a defensive weapon used by the U.S. Navy to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The newest variant, the SM-3 Block IB, incorporates an enhanced two-color infrared seeker and the Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System, a mechanism that uses short bursts of precision propulsion to steer the missile toward incoming targets.
The target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai. The USS Lake Erie, deployed off the coast of Hawaii, picked up the threat on its SPY-1 radar and launched the SM-3 Block IB in response. Using the sheer kinetic force of a massive collision, the SM-3 Block IB destroyed the threat target in space.
“We’ve been in the business of making SM-3s for many years now, and the current variant deployed around the world today is a highly reliable, powerful defensive weapon,” said Wes Kremer, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems’ Air and Missile Defense Systems product line. “What these successful flight tests prove is that Raytheon can introduce cutting-edge ballistic missile defense technologies to time-tested, proven systems. That’s critical if we want to continue to outpace the growing threat.”
About the Standard Missile-3
The SM-3 destroys incoming ballistic missile threats by colliding with them, a concept sometimes described as “hitting a bullet with a bullet.” The impact is the equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph.
- More than 130 SM-3s have been delivered to U.S. and Japanese navies ahead of schedule and under cost.
- Raytheon is on track to deliver the next-generation SM-3 Block IB in 2015.
- SM-3 Block IB will be deployed in both sea-based and land-based modes.
Naval Today Staff , June 28, 2012; Image: Raytheon