Bigger & Better: The Evolution of a Ballistic Missile Killer

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Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 Block IIA completed its first flight test on June 6, 2015, at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Saint Nicolas Island Facility, California. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

Ballistic missile defense is constantly evolving to meet new threats. In the same way, Standard Missile-3 is evolving - with the help of innovative engineering.

On June 6, under the Missile Defense Agency’s leadership, the U.S. Navy conducted the first flight test, dubbed Controlled Test Vehicle-1, of an SM-3 Block IIA.

"The entire world is watching when we do these flight tests, so we have to work together to be successful," said Wes Kremer, vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems at Raytheon Missile Systems. "Missile Defense is a team sport and Raytheon is a proud member of that team."

The SM-3 Block IIA’s larger rocket motors and bigger, more capable kill vehicle will deliver the capability to engage threats sooner and protect larger regions from short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.

“The SM-3 Block IIA program reflects the MDA’s commitment to maturing this capability for the defense of our nation, deployed forces and our allies abroad,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Missile Systems’ SM-3® program director. “The success of this test keeps the program on track for a 2018 deployment at sea and ashore.”

During the test, a SM-3 Block IIA was launched from a MK 41 launcher located at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Saint Nicolas Island Facility, California, to test the nosecone performance, steering control section functioning, booster separation and second stage rocket motor separation.

The SM-3 family of interceptors has taken out more threat targets in space than all other comparable programs combined. Key to its success -- a "crawl, walk, run" development approach that builds on proven systems. These days, the program isn’t just hitting its stride, it’s sprinting.

Published On: 06/06/2015
Last Updated: 10/14/2019