The SM-6 was fired from the Aegis guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), and intercepted the ballistic missile in the “terminal stage” or final seconds of its flight. The SM-6 is replacing the SM-2 Block IV in the terminal missile defense role, complementing the SM-3 interceptor’s “upper tier” missile defense capability. The SM-3 is optimized to intercept ballistic missiles while they are in space.
Beyond its original anti-air warfare role, SM-6 has now been developed into a missile that supports anti-surface and anti-missile capabilities against both cruise and ballistic missiles.
“Earlier this year, our customer requested an enhanced capability to deal with a sophisticated medium-range ballistic missile threat,” said Mike Campisi, Raytheon’s SM-6 senior program director. “We did all this – the analysis, coding and testing – in seven months; a process that normally takes one to two years.”
This was the third time that the SM-6 missile successfully engaged a ballistic missile target in its terminal phase. The missile was first tested in a successful flight test mission in August 2015, and then again in late 2016.
Raytheon has delivered more than 330 SM-6 missiles. Deployed on U.S. Navy ships, the missile delivers over-the-horizon offensive and defensive capability by leveraging the proven capabilities of the Standard Missile airframe and propulsion system and the advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities of the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM). Beyond its original anti-air warfare role, SM-6 has now been developed into a missile that supports anti-surface and anti-missile capabilities against both cruise and ballistic missiles.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has approved the sale of SM-6 to several allied nations. The missile is compatible with Aegis-equipped ships currently operating SM-2 missiles.