Menu Dropdown

Raytheon Goes 5-for-5 in Standard Missile-3 Intercept Tests

A new version of the U.S. Navy’s Standard Missile-3 Block IB destroyed a complex, separating target high above the Pacific Ocean in May 2013.

Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 program successfully completed five consecutive flight tests in the last year, bringing the program’s space intercept record to 26 in total. The Standard Missile-3 is designed to destroy incoming short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats by colliding with them in space, a concept sometimes described as "hitting a bullet with a bullet."

An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from USS Lake Erie during a September 2013 Missile Defense Agency test. It successfully intercepted a complex short-range ballistic missile target off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

The testing schedule began in February 2013 with a first-of-its kind test for a Standard Missile-3 Block IA. The missile was fired from the USS Lake Erie and destroyed a medium-range ballistic missile target using a remote cue from a satellite sensor system.

According to Dr. Mitch Stevison, Raytheon's SM-3 senior program director, the remote cue provided by the Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator satellites gave the sailors 'eyes in space' providing a significant advantage by expanding response options.

In May, a Standard Missile-3 Block IB destroyed a complex, separating target using the missile's improved, two-color infrared seeker and an advanced system of guidance rockets which helped steer the missile's kill vehicle into the target's path.

In September, Raytheon's SM-3 Block IA and AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar took part in an operational test. The SM-3 was launched from the USS Deactur and destroyed a medium-range ballistic missile target in space.

"This operational test proves our nation has capable, reliable systems deployed today defending the U.S. and its allies against the growing ballistic missile threat," said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems.

The same month, the U.S. Navy launched two SM-3 Block IBs against a single ballistic missile target. The first missile destroyed the simulated threat.

After the test, Stevison spoke positively about the amount of rich data gained, noting the SM-3 Block IB's design was, in my instances, "far surpassing design requirements."

Although the exact altitude of the Sept. 18 flight test remains classified, the intercept was the highest to date, topping the famous 2008 satellite shootdown of a non-functioning satellite containing toxic fuel that was slipping out of orbit.

Only one more flight test in 2013 remained for the year, and in October, a SM-3 Block IB destroyed a medium range ballistic missile target, completing the Block IB's initial operationally testing.

"When this weapon deploys, the U.S. and our allies will have a tremendously reliable, capable defensive asset on their side," said Lawrence.

Published: 10/17/2014

Last Updated: 02/27/2015

Back to Top