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3...2...1...Launch! Standard Missile's 60th Anniversary Takes Off

Guests review an interactive display depicting milestones in the 60-year history of Raytheon's Standard Missile family.

An unlikely choice for an anniversary celebration, Hangar 845 is dust colored, making it barely distinguishable from the parched Tucson desert landscape around it.

On the inside, however, guests attending Raytheon's Standard Missile 60th Anniversary were welcomed by the cool ocean blue of a US Navy ship deck.

Guests strolled along a fifty-foot timeline display with interactive screens, reflecting on milestones that dot the Standard Missile family's six-decade history.

The Standard Missile has evolved from defending ships to protecting entire countries as part of the United States' integrated air and missile defense system.

Wes Kremer, vice president of Raytheon's Air and Missile Defense Systems, welcomed guests and international partners from Japan, Australia, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Kremer opened his remarks by noting the purpose of the celebration was to "honor the legacy" and thank those who have contributed over the years to turn the Standard Missiles-1, 2, 3, and 6 into "the world's premier family of air and missile defense weapons."

“The 60-year history of the Standard Missile family of programs is impressive — moving beyond the protection of navies to the defense of nations," said Dr. Taylor Lawrence, President of Raytheon Missile Systems.  “Today, we remember the creation of innovations that were once just farfetched ideas — the concept of a guided missile, or 'hitting a bullet with a bullet' in space."

The two-hour celebration included various speakers taking the podium at the "helm' of the ship. Vice Admiral James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, joked that it was the easiest time he'd ever had getting on a ship.

Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency addresses attendees of Raytheon’s Standard Missile
60th Anniversary event in Tucson, AZ.

Noting during his speech that the Standard Missile franchise has service longevity that rivals the B-52, Syring expressed his pride over the recent successful SM-3 Block IB flight test, indicating that he had "no doubt' that the warfighter requirement for Standard Missiles will continue to expand.

According to Syring, the work the government-industry team is doing to actively protect “our homeland, our forces and our international partners against ballistic missiles is essential to our national security.'

Syring reminded the audience that “Standard Missiles will be central and integral to the U.S.'s defense strategy as part of a coordinated mission for decades to come."

A highlight of the event was a video depicting a series of launches. To the surprise of the guests, when the Standard Missile-1 launched on the oversized viewing screen, a blast of pyrotechnic fire flashed upwards from the bottom of the missile model that had, up until that point, loomed large and still in the corner of the hangar.

Similarly, when the SM-2 launched on the video, a flash of fire engulfed the SM-2 model. When the SM-6 launched on the video, another flash blazed around the SM-6 model. Then came SM-3.

Pytrotechnics light up the hangar as guests experience what
it’s like to launch a Standard Missile-3 interceptor.

While the flames, too, lit up the bottom of the missile in a pyrotechnic blast, the audiences' eyes continued to watch the missile's extended journey beyond the earth's atmosphere. Climbing higher into space, the audience leaned in, scooting to the edges of their seats, eager for impact.

Clutching the "safety devices,' also known as ear plugs, audience members waited and were rewarded with an ear-shattering blast from behind the ship's deck, projecting hundreds of red streamers high into the rafters. The streamers fluttered down toward shocked faces below.

“These missiles are national assets, and I think all of us should be very proud of the work that's done here," said Marci McDonnell, event director and part of Raytheon's Air and Missile Defense Systems product line.  “It's important to take time to honor our heritage as Raytheon employees, and I'm thankful to all of our guests who shared in this walk down memory lane."

Standard Missile 2— SM-2 was the first variant that could acquire a target after launch, and that ability doubled its range and altitude. Today it is the world's premier fleet-area air defense weapon and is used by the U.S. and allied nations.

Standard Missile 3—The SM-3 is the only missile in existence today that can be launched from a ship, blast into space, and take out short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The SM-3 uses a non-explosive warhead – a concept often described as “hitting a bullet with a bullet." Both the U.S. and Japanese navies have deployed it on ships.

Standard Missile 6— The SM-6 is a new, over-the-horizon air defense weapon. In 2015, it will take on a new role defending against ballistic missile threats in their final phase of flight.

Published: 10/30/2014

Last Updated: 05/18/2015

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