Technology Today

2012 Issue 2

Standard Missile Raytheon's evoloving technology to strengthen the ballistic missile defense of the U.S. and its Allies

Standard Missile Raytheon's evoloving technology to strengthen the ballistic missile defense of the U.S. and its Allies

Standard Missile, which first entered production in 1967 as SM-1, was developed as a replacement for the Terrier, Talos and Tartar surface-to-air missiles. For 50 years, Standard Missile technology has evolved from that beginning to keep pace with new threats and growing missions.

On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. decision to adopt a new approach to ballistic missile defense in Europe. This plan, called the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), uses Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 as a proven cost-effective way to protect our NATO allies and U.S. forces stationed in Europe against ballistic-missile threats. Raytheon is developing multiple variants of SM-3™ (Blocks IA, IB and IIA) as part of the Missile Defense Agency's sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System.

Phase 1 in 2011 included the deployment of existing Aegis BMD-capable ships equipped with proven SM-3 Block IA interceptors. In March 2011, the United States sent the USS Monterey to the Mediterranean Sea to begin a sustained deployment of Aegis BMD-capable ships in support of the EPAA.

Standard Missile Chart

Phase 2 in 2015 will employ the more advanced Block IB version of the SM-3 interceptor. 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 (TDACS), providing the precision propulsion necessary to intercept incoming ballistic missiles with pinpoint accuracy.

In May 2012, Raytheon achieved a significant milestone with the successful flight test of SM-3 Block IB, marking the 20th successful SM-3 intercept. During the test, the target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai. The USS Lake Erie's SPY-1 radar acquired and began tracking the target. Several minutes after target launch, the ship's crew fired an 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. This collision's kinetic energy was the equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 miles per hour.

For Phase 3 in 2018, a significantly more advanced SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is being jointly developed by Raytheon and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Nagoya, Japan. The partnership began with a 1999 agreement among the Government of Japan, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Raytheon and MHI to operate as an integrated team to develop Block IIA. Japan already deploys Block IA on its Kongo-class destroyers.

MHI will provide Block IIA's bigger second- and third-stage rocket motors. Raytheon will furnish the advanced kinetic warhead, which combines larger seeker optics, a 512 x 512 focal-plane array and an advanced signal processor to improve both clutter discrimination and target-acquisition range. These enhancements will enable a single ship to defend a wider region and destroy a broader range of ballistic missile threats.

SM-3 continues to evolve as a critical resource in the ballistic missile defense of the U.S. and our allies as it counters increasingly sophisticated threats.


Approved for Public Release 12-MDA-6963 (27July12)


Stephen Reidy

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