There has been a flurry of recent activity across the Raytheon SM-3 programme. In one instance, last December an AEGIS Ashore combat system site launched-Block IIA interceptor destroyed an intermediate-range ballistic missile target. Roy Donelson, the company’s Senior Director of Strategic Missile Defense Systems, recalled this most recent test was extremely significant: “The test evaluated the system's overall performance achieved three milestones for the SM-3 IIA variant. It was the first successful intercept from a land-based launch; the first intercept of an intermediate-range ballistic missile target; and the first intercept using tracking data from remote sensors, known as ‘engage on remote’.”
Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 X-band missile defence radar served as a remote sensor, tracking and providing the missile with data on the incoming threat, instead of using the phased-array connected to the AEGIS Ashore system. Raytheon is also continuously modernising the AN/TPY-2 to outpace increasingly complex threats. Mr Donelson pointed out GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology continues the modernization of the TPY-2 radar, providing for improved reliability and maintainability. “In the most recent SM-3 IIA test in December, the AN/SPY-6(V)1, currently installed at the navy's PMRF [Pacific Missile Range Facility], capitalised on the target of opportunity, successfully tracking the ballistic missile target from launch through intercept,” the community expert added.
As this symposium convenes, the SM-3 interceptor is in use by US and Japanese Navies. The latest variant, the SM-3 IIA, is being cooperatively developed with Japanese industry. The Raytheon programme leader noted: “Raytheon is the prime contractor in the US for the latest SM-3 IIA variant; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the prime contractor in Japan. Together we are building the most sophisticated solutions in ballistic missile defence technology.”
As for the remainder of 2019, Mr Donelson concluded: “We will continue to produce and test SM-3. We continue to push and stretch the capability of the missile to continue the evolution that has become the hallmark of the Standard Missile family.”