Last updated: 06/26/2012*

Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 flight test a success

This morning off the coast of Hawaii, Raytheon completed the first successful flight test of its Standard Missile-3 IB, which introduces advanced sensors and a new, highly accurate steering mechanism to hunt down and destroy ballistic missiles.

The launch marks the 20th successful intercept for the SM-3, a ship-based system used by the U.S. Navy to destroy missiles with ranges of 3,500 miles or less. It is a key part of the United States’ missile defense plan, known as the Phased Adaptive Approach.

“This is a great moment for the SM-3 team,” said Wes Kremer, Raytheon vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems. “This flight test keeps us on track for a 2015 deployment in support of phase two of the government’s Phased Adaptive Approach.”

Raytheon's SM-3 Block IB maintains the reliability of the Block IA variant while incorporating a new, two-color infrared seeker, an advanced signal processor and a new Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System.

Essentially a rocket motor with ten nozzles, the TDACS provides the precision propulsion necessary to intercept incoming ballistic missiles with pinpoint accuracy.

SM-3 Block IB will be deployed in both sea-based and land-based modes as part of phase two of the Phased Adaptive Approach. That plan, announced in 2009, calls for several layers of radars, missiles and sensors to protect both the United States and other countries.

During the test, the target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai. As the target rose above the horizon, the USS Lake Erie’s SPY-1 radar acquired and began tracking the target.  Several minutes after target launch, the ship’s crew fired a SM-3 Block IB. During flight, the missile’s kinetic warhead acquired the target with its two-color infrared seeker and tracked it through intercept.

Commonly referred to as “hitting a bullet with a bullet,” the SM-3 is designed to destroy incoming threat missiles by colliding with them. The kinetic energy of the collision is the equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 miles per hour.
 
“Today’s success proves we can evolve this state-of-the-art missile to counter more advanced threats, which is critical to the protection of the U.S. and our allies,” said Mitch Stevison, Raytheon SM-3 senior program director.

 

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