Missile Defense Expands Globally
Patriot contracts, Standard Missile-3 deployments keep skies covered
The threat of ballistic missile warfare looms large across the globe. But the systems that defend nations against those attacks are advancing rapidly.
More than 5,900 ballistic missiles exist outside the control of the United States, NATO nations, China and Russia – an increase of more than 1,200 in the past five years, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Raytheon engineers are hard at work to counter the threat, with interceptors and radars that go farther, think faster and work together to protect more territory than ever before.
Recent improvements include upgrades to the powerful interceptor Standard Missile-3, the AN/TPY-2 radar and the Global Patriot Solutions missile-defense system. Raytheon discussed those improvements with international military leaders at the Paris Air Show.
A mightier missile killer
Standard Missile-3 is a case study in the evolution of a missile-defense system. The interceptor, historically launched from U.S. and Japanese naval ships, can now launch from land. The world's first land-based SM-3 site is set to begin operating in Romania later this year.
“For Europe, the threat is personal because the continent is vulnerable to ballistic missile attack from rogue nations," said Bill Blair, vice president of business development for Raytheon's Air and Missile Defense Systems. "This is why land-based SM-3 sites are critical."
Land-based SM-3 sites could also help defend locations in the Middle East and Japan, according to a 2014 report by the Washington, D.C., think tank The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
"This new deployment flexibility opens up the door in terms of who might be able to take advantage of this capability for national defense," said Dean Gehr, director of Raytheon's Land-based Standard Missile program.
A new version of the interceptor, the SM-3 Block IIA, had its first successful flight test on June 6. The interceptor, co-developed by the United States and Japan, has larger rocket motors and an advanced kill vehicle that allows it to take out threats sooner and protect larger regions from short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.
Eyes on the skies
Having a powerful system to destroy ballistic missiles is one thing. Picking those missiles out of a sky full of innocuous objects is another. And that’s where the AN/TPY-2 radar comes in.
The radar is known for its ability to discriminate – to identify even a single threat in a sky filled with other objects. Testing has shown SM-3 can launch using target-tracking data from AN/TPY-2 – a pairing that couples the missile-killer’s range with the radar’s keen eye.
“The SM-3 Block IIA is powerful on its own, but when paired with an AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar, the possibilities for increased protection through battlespace and defended area increase are very promising – for both U.S. warfighters and our international partners,” said Tom Laliberty, vice president of missile defense programs at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems.
AN/TPY-2 is now available to U.S. allies and security partners in forward-based mode, meaning the radar can be positioned near hostile territory and detect ballistic missiles shortly after launch and while they are still ascending.
"As ballistic missiles proliferate and become more technically advanced, obtaining the forward-based AN/TPY-2 will enable America's friends and allies to improve the performance of already capable defensive systems such as Patriot," said Dave Gulla, vice president of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems' Global Integrated Sensors business area. "By acquiring a forward-based mode AN/TPY-2, or using terminal-mode AN/TPY-2 in forward-based mode, customers will significantly enhance their defensive capabilities."
Down to the ground
Standard Missile-3 and AN/TPY-2 have the “upper tier” of missile defense covered. For threats closer to cities, military bases and critical infrastructure, thirteen nations have chosen Patriot as their go-to defender.
Patriot is a long-range, high altitude, all-weather system that has been rigorously tested more than 2,500 times with U.S. Army oversight under real-world conditions. Last year, Raytheon unveiled a new radar for the system that uses the semiconductor gallium nitride to power its active electronically scanned array – a major advancement that lowers operational costs and allows better focusing of the beam.
Together, Raytheon's upper-tier and lower-tier defense systems are protecting ever-larger sections of the globe.
"Today’s missile defense solutions are designed to be layered; no one interceptor can do it all," said Blair. "It's not an either-or situation. You need both layers of protection for an effective shield."