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Navy Uses Raytheon SM-3 and Space Sensor to Destroy Missile Target

A Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator satellite peers down from low Earth orbit in this artist's rendering.

In a first-of-its-kind test, a Raytheon Standard Missile-3 Block IA fired from the USS Lake Erie destroyed a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target using a remote cue from a satellite sensor system.

The test marks the 22nd successful intercept for the SM-3 program.

“This is the first time the U.S. Navy has launched an SM-3 using a cue from space,” said Mitch Stevison, director of Raytheon’s SM-3 program. “It significantly expands our warfighters’ response options.”

The medium-range ballistic missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the south shores of the island of Kauai, Hawaii. As it rose into the sky, the target was acquired and tracked by sensors built by Raytheon for the Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator satellites.

Threat data was then relayed through the command, control, battle management and communications (C2BMC) system to the ship, allowing the crew to launch the SM-3 before the ship’s own sensors acquired the target.

“This is an extremely important capability for our warfighters,” said Stevison. “The STSS-D gives us eyes in space, and that’s a true advantage.”

“The space-based sensor’s unique vantage point allows it to see the threat early in its trajectory,” said Bill Hart, vice president of Space Systems for Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business.

“We can give our naval warfighters extra time to analyze and respond, by providing target data before the ship can track the threat,” Hart said.

The first ‘launch-on-remote’ test occurred in April 2011 when a SM-3 Block IA was launched against an intermediate-range ballistic missile using remote sensor data provided by a Raytheon-made, forward-based AN/TPY-2 radar.

The SM-3 is designed to destroy incoming short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missile threats by colliding with them in space.  More than 135 SM-3s have been delivered to the U.S. and Japan ahead of schedule and under cost.

Raytheon is on track to deliver the next-generation SM-3 Block IB in 2015 in both sea- and land-based configurations.

STSS-D consists of two satellites carrying sensor payloads in a low-Earth orbit that are capable of tracking missiles in space.

Raytheon sensors used on the satellites were developed under contract to Northrop Grumman, prime contractor for the STSS-D program.

Last Updated: 02/26/2015

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