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Standard Missile-6, built for anti-air warfare, sinks target ship in test

An SM-6 missile launches from the deck of USS John Paul Jones during a test in June 2014. Recent testing has shown SM-6, which was built for anti-air warfare, can also be used against ships at sea. (Photo: U.S. Navy) <a href ="http://www.raytheon.com/rtnwcm/groups/gallery/documents/digitalasset/rtn_192620.jpg" target="_blank">(Download high-resolution photo)</a>

Raytheon's Standard Missile-6, already deployed in anti-air warfare and as an interceptor for ballistic missiles at sea, has now proven effective against targets on the ocean's surface.

In a test off the coast of Hawaii, an SM-6 missile engaged and sunk its first-ever surface target – the decommissioned guided missile frigate USS Reuben James. That test demonstrated SM-6's capability in anti-surface warfare.

The test comes as the U.S. Navy strives for what it calls "distributed lethality," or the ability to strike from any ship and from any location. That requires using ships in dispersed formations to counter threats from missiles, aircraft, submarines and surface ships.

"In order to have more power in more places, the Navy is increasing the offensive might of the surface force," said Dr. Mitch Stevison, vice president of Raytheon Air and Missile Defense.

Data gathered from the test will be assessed to examine how the missile and supporting systems work together. Ultimately, the Navy will use the information to make recommendations for the development of future systems and standards.

"The SM-6 is a very capable missile," Stevison said. "One missile with one hardware configuration performs all three missions." 

In separate tests, the missile, which is deployed on cruisers and destroyers, broke its previous distance record for engaging a target by demonstrating both maximum down-range and maximum cross-range intercepts.

"The missile was put through its paces and exceeded all expectations during rigorous and complex multiple target scenarios," said Mike Campisi, Raytheon Missile Systems' senior SM-6 program director.

The missile destroyed five targets in "over-the-horizon, engage-on-remote" missions. Those tests, in part, confirmed SM-6's ability to engage threats beyond the sight of operators on the ship, using its own radar.

"Now, through pairing it with real-time sensors, SM-6 no longer relies on the ship to provide targeting data," Campisi said. "The missile activates its own radar to engage targets."

The USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), configured with the advanced Aegis Baseline 9.C1, executed the distance-breaking missions as part of final testing that will likely lead to full operational capability in 2017.

2016 will continue to be significant for the versatile missile. Raytheon's SM-6 "Dual 1," part of the Missile Defense Agency's Sea-Based Terminal program, is slated for additional testing. The program protects against ballistic missiles in their final, or terminal, phase of flight, and it also includes anti-air warfare – combat against airborne threats such as helicopters, planes, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.

A Standard Missile-6 takes flight in a multi-mission test. Play Video

Standard Missile-6 Multi-mission Test

The U.S. Navy fired an SM-6 "Dual-1" in July 2015 for the first time, intercepting and destroying a short-range ballistic missile target at sea in its final seconds of flight.

SM-6 is the only missile in the world that can perform both anti-air warfare and terminal ballistic missile defense from sea. Now it is adding anti-surface warfare to its repertoire.

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon $270 million for SM-6 production in late February. Delivery of up to 113 missiles will begin in 2018. The award marked the fourth year of full-rate production for the multi-mission missile.

SM-6, first deployed in 2013, is a key component of the U.S. Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air mission. Raytheon has delivered more than 250 missiles to date, with many years of production on the horizon. SM-6 is currently deployable on 60 surface combatants in the fleet.

Published: 03/07/2016

Last Updated: 05/01/2017

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