Raytheon has begun enhancing Standard Missile-3 Block IBs with ‘threat upgrade’ software, giving the weapon’s kill vehicle the ability to hunt down more complicated, more lethal targets.
Though exact details are classified, the ability to make improvements through software upgrades means combatant commanders can get increased ballistic missile defense capabilities without the time and expense associated with traditional disassembly or hardware replacement.
Dr. Mitch Stevison, Standard Missile-3 senior program director, said:
We’re proving it’s possible to significantly improve the SM-3 Block IB’s capability without having to go through the process of breaking apart the missile and then rebuilding again. Software updates are inherently less risky and extremely cost effective.
The Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Navy plan to test an SM-3 Block IB enhanced with the new software in 2015.
The SM-3 Block IB’s software updates were performed in Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., Space Factory. Final assembly of the SM-3 takes place at Raytheon’s Redstone Missile Integration Facility in Huntsville, Ala.
Image: US Navy