A missile defense trifecta

Raytheon interceptor hits three milestones in latest test

Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IIA interceptor launches from the Aegis Ashore combat system site in Hawaii during a U.S. Missile Defense Agency test on Dec. 10, 2018. The next-generation variant destroyed an intermediate-range ballistic missile target in a first-of-its-kind test from land. (Video: U.S. Missile Defense Agency)

On Dec. 10, a Raytheon-built Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor destroyed an intermediate-range ballistic missile target in a U.S. Missile Defense Agency test.

The interceptor was fired from an Aegis Ashore combat system site in Hawaii. It was the first successful intercept by the IIA, a next-generation variant, that was launched from land and it was an "engage-on-remote" test, meaning the missile used data from a separate AN/TPY-2 radar rather than the phased-array connected to the Aegis Ashore system.

SM-3 destroys its targets with sheer impact. Developed by Raytheon and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, it’s the only ballistic missile interceptor that can be launched from sea or land, and it has achieved more than 30 intercepts in space.

“This is a versatile and sophisticated missile,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. “Our partnership with the Missile Defense Agency and Japanese industry made these results possible.”

Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar served as a remote sensor in the test, tracking the missile and sending it data on the incoming target. Another radar, known as AN/SPY-6(V)1, successfully tracked the ballistic missile target from launch through intercept, from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

“Because Raytheon makes both missile defense sensors and interceptors, our engineers can work collaboratively and share information,” said Bryan Rosselli, Raytheon Mission Systems and Sensors vice president. 

The SM-3 IIA’s larger rocket motors and bigger kinetic warhead will engage short-to-intermediate-range ballistic missile threats sooner.

In an October test, the interceptor destroyed a medium-range ballistic missile target at sea. The target missile was launched from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

The next-generation SM-3 will be carried by U.S. Navy and Japanese ships and will be based at the Aegis Ashore land site in Poland, once it becomes operational. The Poland site, along with an already active Aegis Ashore site in Romania, will provide missile defense protection for Europe, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

Published On: 12/10/2018
Last Updated: 12/19/2018