A CON­TIN­U­OUS EVO­LU­TION: THE STAN­DARD MIS­SILE-6

SP's NavalForces - - TECHNOLOGY -

tHE StAN­dArd MIS­SILE-6 WAS orig­i­nally de­vel­oped to de­fend ships against en­emy air­craft, un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles and cruise mis­siles. over the last four years, the mis­sile has be­come a shin­ing ex­am­ple of mis­sile de­fense evo­lu­tion. The mis­sile is some­what new – first is­sued to the US Navy fleet in 2013. By 2015 it had suc­cess­fully added and proven the abil­ity to pro­tect ships against bal­lis­tic mis­sile threats in their fi­nal phase of flight. A hand­ful of months later, it demon­strated the abil­ity to take out ob­jects on the ocean’s sur­face. A test in Jan­uary of 2016 re­sulted in the demise of the de­com­mis­sioned uSS reuben James. In re­cent tests it has shat­tered its own record sev­eral times over for the long­est range sur­face-to-air in­ter­cept of its kind in naval his­tory. three mis­sions in one mis­sile is re­mark­able, un­prece­dented re­ally, but just as im­pres­sive is the fact that these new mis­sions are added to an ex­ist­ing mis­sile through soft­ware up­grades only. there is lit­er­ally no phys­i­cal change to the mis­sile, and it is part of raytheon’s ef­fort to rapidly spi­ral ca­pa­bil­ity into the hands of ser­vice com­man­ders.

A com­plex se­ries of US Navy flight tests in April 2017 proved that the SM-6 was ready to reach the fi­nal stage of the ac­qui­si­tion process: full op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity. reach­ing this phase is a type of grad­u­a­tion ex­er­cise that sig­ni­fies the weapon’s sea wor­thi­ness and that no more test­ing is re­quired. the mis­sile is fully ready for de­ploy­ment at sea with all three mis­sions – anti-air war­fare, anti-sur­face war­fare and bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fense.

the evo­lu­tion of these mis­siles, and oth­ers that raytheon pro­duces, is in­ten­tional. the rapid de­vel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies is only able to oc­cur when you have a ro­bust base of engi­neer­ing, pro­duc­tion, and test­ing ex­per­tise to build upon – a more than 60 year legacy within the Stan­dard Mis­sile fam­ily makes a solid base.

Few mis­siles are started from scratch. over the years, raytheon has taken the best com­po­nents of the best sys­tems to cre­ate ver­sa­tile pow­er­houses like the SM-3 and the SM-6. the SM-3 pro­gram has lever­aged lessons learned dur­ing years of test­ing. the SM-6 pro­gram in­cor­po­rates ad­vanced sig­nal pro­cess­ing and guid­ance con­trol ca­pa­bil­i­ties of raytheon’s Ad­vanced Medi­um­range Air-to-Air Mis­sile. the SM-6 de­sign is also based on the time-tested ad­van­tages of the Stan­dard Mis­sile’s air­frame and propul­sion.

In early 2017, the uS de­part­ment of de­fense ap­proved the re­lease of SM-6 to sev­eral in­ter­na­tional cus­tomers. Many of the ap­proved coun­tries are seek­ing the mul­ti­mis­sion mis­sile to bol­ster their ship­build­ing pro­grams. The flex­i­bil­ity of the mis­sile drives sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings for uS part­ners and al­lies.

the tech­nol­ogy of the Stan­dard Mis­sile fam­ily has ex­panded from de­fend­ing ships to de­fend­ing con­ti­nents. thanks to the in­no­va­tion and fore­sight of in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment teams, the Stan­dard Mis­sile will con­tinue to evolve and ad­vance.

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