The sky is not the limit

Accelerating the evolution of missile defense technologies

Raytheon's Standard Missiles played key roles in Formidable Shield 19, a multi-nation, air- and missile-defense exercise held on May 1-19, 2019. The event was aimed at ensuring systems run by the U.S. and its allies work together. (Video: U.S. Navy)

When missiles become more dangerous, the technologies that defend against them must become more effective.

The development of interceptor technology must keep pace with today's ever-increasing number of countries with ballistic missiles. Technologies to defend against those missiles include sensors, command and control, and a host of interceptors.

Raytheon continually evolves its radar systems and Standard Missile interceptors, which include the SM-2, SM-3 and SM-6, each designed for a specific part of a layered defense strategy.

“Few missiles are started from scratch,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Strategic and Naval Systems vice president. “We've taken the best components of the best systems to create versatile powerhouses like the SM-3 and the SM-6.”

SM-2: Low-altitude pursuit

The SM-2 chases threats closer to the water's surface, defending against anti-ship missiles and aircraft out to 90 nautical miles. 

Raytheon restarted the production line in 2017, when four allies – The Netherlands, South Korea, Australia and Japan – pooled resources to make a "bundle" purchase. The storied missile resumed production, this time from a modernized, reconfigured factory.  

The company plans to flight-test the Block IIIB variant from the restarted line early this year. The Navy intends to use that version through 2035.

SM-3: From land or sea

The U.S. Navy uses the SM-3 interceptor for regional defense against short-to-intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It can launch from land and at sea.

Raytheon and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are partnering to make a next-generation IIA variant that's equipped with a new rocket motor, doubling the range of earlier interceptors. The new variant has a larger "kill vehicle" instead of a warhead. It uses sheer impact to knock out an attacking missile.

“We improved the guidance, we improved the propulsion, we improved the sensor,” said Reid Davis, a business development director at Raytheon Missile Systems.

Last year, Raytheon won a $1 billion U.S. Missile Defense Agency contract to produce 62 Block IIA interceptors. The agreement funded production for 2018 and 2019, and a contract for 2020 is forthcoming.

SM-6: Go the distance

The SM-6 is a long-range, multi-mission missile that can strike ballistic missiles and operate from either land or at sea. It can hit in either of two phases of an attacking missile's flight: shortly after launch or in its terminal phase, as it’s falling to earth.

A revamped production line and other efforts brought the SM-6 in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Raytheon has delivered more than 500 SM-6 missiles to the Navy.

SPY-6: Eyes ahead

Raytheon's AN/SPY-6(V)1 radar, or SPY-6, works with SM-3 and SM-6 by helping ships detect, acquire and track ballistic missiles and other dangers in the air and on the sea.

SPY-6 is the Navy's family of scalable, next-generation, air and missile defense radars. These sensors are being installed on seven classes of ships, including destroyers, large-deck amphibious ships, aircraft carriers and frigates.  

Last year, Raytheon received a Navy contract to build two additional radar shipsets, bringing the total to nine to be installed on DDG-51 Flight III destroyers.

Published On: 12/13/2019
Last Updated: 01/30/2020