Last Updated: 05/16/2013*

A new version of the U.S. Navy’s premier missile interceptor destroyed a complex, separating target high above the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, moving the program one step closer to a decision on full-rate production.

The Standard Missile-3 Block IB has an improved, two-color infrared seeker and an advanced system of guidance rockets, the Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System, that helps steer the missile’s kill vehicle into the target’s path.

“This test scenario was designed to challenge the discrimination capabilities of the SM-3 Block IB,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, Raytheon SM-3 program director. “What we learned from this mission gives me great confidence in the missile’s production readiness.”

The test, code-named Stellar Hecate after a Greek goddess of magic, marks the 23rd successful intercept for the SM-3 program.

Raytheon’s SM-3 protects the U.S. and allies by taking out short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles in space.

The interceptor is a defensive weapon that destroys short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles in space. It is a critical piece of the United States’ Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense.

The short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range facility located on the southern shore of the island of Kauai, Hawaii. A U.S. Navy ship acquired the target with its own sensors and launched the SM-3 Block IB in response.

The SM-3 Block IB is based on the highly successful SM-3 Block IA, which is deployed around the world today in the U.S. and Japanese navies.

The test comes two weeks before U.S. and international military partners from around the world join the Raytheon Missile Systems team in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Standard Missile Family of interceptors in Tucson, Ariz.

"Because we've been perfecting this technology for 60 years, we've seen it expand from defending ships to defending continents,” said Dr. Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems.  “As we look back on all that has been accomplished in the last six decades, we can't help but recognize that what was impossible yesterday, is possible today. The unimaginable of today will be tomorrow's solutions."

The first SM-6 missile to be assembled at new state-of-the-art factory in Huntsville, AL is prepared for delivery to the U.S. Navy.

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. SM-3 deliveries from Raytheon’s new Redstone Missile Integration Facility will begin later this year.

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