SM-3 interceptor tested off European coast for first time

Raytheon Standard Missile-3 destroys ballistic target in multinational exercise

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The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fired a Standard Missile-3 in European waters for the first time on Oct. 20, 2015, as part of an at-sea demonstration showcasing the weapon’s ability to intercept a short-range ballistic missile target. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

In a large-scale, multinational exercise, a Raytheon-made Standard Missile-3 successfully engaged a ballistic missile target fired from a U.K. range in the Outer Hebrides near Scotland -- the first time the interceptor was tested in European waters.

“This test is historic in many ways,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems. “Not only was this a multinational effort on a scale never seen before, it was reflective of Europe’s commitment to the NATO ballistic missile defense mission.”

The test, At Sea Demo (ASD) 2015, was organized by the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum, a group of countries dedicated to improving sea-based missile defense through improved cooperation and interoperability.

The United Kingdom, United States, Canada, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and Spain participated in the demonstration of interoperable ballistic missile defenses from participating navies. Numerous ships fired a variety of missiles to simultaneously defeat multiple targets. 



The USS Ross launches Standard Missile-3 during a multinational operational test on Oct. 20, 2015. (Video: U.S. Navy)

ASD 2015 culminated with the U.S. Navy’s launch of an SM-3 from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71). The interceptor soared into space to destroy an incoming ballistic threat target.

“We witnessed world-class regional defense,” said Amy Cohen, director of the Standard Missile-3 program. “It was particularly meaningful for our NATO allies, because those are the nations we’re actively protecting.”

SM-3 destroys its targets with nothing more than sheer impact. It is currently deployed on U.S. Navy ships in Europe’s coastal waters. The first land-based SM-3 site, often referred to as ‘Aegis Ashore,’ is scheduled to become operational later this year in Romania.

Published On: 10/20/2015
Last Updated: 10/14/2019