A new missile interceptor made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems completed its first successful flight test off last night off Hawaii, the company and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said today.
The successful intercept by Raytheon’s ship-based Standard Missile-3 IB — a key component of the next phase of an evolving missile defense shield for Europe — gets the program back on track after the first flight test failed in September.
During the test at about 8:18 p.m. Hawaii time, a target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai. As the target rose above the horizon, the USS Lake Erie's radar acquired and began tracking the target.
The ship’s crew fired a SM-3 Block IB and the missile’s hit-to-kill kinetic warhead acquired the target with its two-color infrared seeker and tracked it through the intercept.
Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IB is based on the SM-3 Block IA, which is currently deployed on ships as part of the first phase of the Obama administration's Phased Adaptive Approach to European missile defense.
The next-generation Block IB is critical because it can defeat the more sophisticated threats emerging around the world today, Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president, said in prepared remarks.
Raytheon has delivered more than 130 SM-3 Block IAs ahead of schedule and under cost, said Wes Kremer, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems' Air and Missile Defense Systems product line.
Kremer said Raytheon is on track to deliver the ship-based SM-3 Block IB,as well as a land-based version under development, by 2015.