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Flight-Testing of Next-Gen SM-3 Begins

Bigger, faster Standard Missile Block IIA tested at Point Mugu


The U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) launched the Raytheon Company’s Standard Missile 3 Block IIA in its first flight test from Point Mugu Naval Station Sunday, June 7, 2015, according to a Raytheon news release.

The flight of Control Test Vehicle-01 evaluated the missile’s nosecone performance, steering control section function, booster separation, and second and third stage rocket motor separation, according to the release. The missile was launched from a MK 41 vertical launcher on Saint Nicolas Island, California, at the U.S. Navy’s Point Mugu Sea Range.

“The success of this test keeps the program on track for a 2018 deployment at sea and ashore.”

The big SM-3 Block IIA has a larger diameter fuselage than the SM-2, SM-3 Block IB and SM-6 missiles from which it is derived. Its larger rocket motors give it increased range and speed, as well as a more capable kill vehicle than the Block IB now serving at sea and being deployed in the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system.

Standard Missile 3 (SM-3)

Development of the SM-3 missile. Raytheon graphic

These increased capabilities will allow the missile to protect larger regions against threats ranging from short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) to intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), and to engage those incoming threats earlier than existing missiles. Both missiles destroy incoming ballistic missile threats in space using kinetic kill vehicles delivering the kinetic energy equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph on impact.

“The SM-3 Block IIA program reflects the MDA’s commitment to maturing this capability for the defense of our nation, deployed forces, and our allies abroad,” said Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president. “The success of this test keeps the program on track for a 2018 deployment at sea and ashore.”

More than 200 SM-3 Block I missiles have already been delivered. The SM-3 Block IIA is planned to deploy in 2018.