One of Raytheon’s most advanced missiles intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile during a test near Hawaii on Tuesday, Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.
The “complex” test flight of the the Standard Missile-6 Block IA marked the third successful intercept for the latest variant, and it was the second involving a medium-range ballistic missile target.
During the test, the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, with its onboard radar, and fired an undisclosed number of missiles using the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system.
Like prior versions in Raytheon’s Standard Missile series, the SM-6 originally was developed to shoot down air threats like cruise missiles and aircraft.
Raytheon has upgraded the SM-6 to also hit surface targets and, most recently, to hit ballistic missiles in their final seconds of flight.
Mike Campisi, Raytheon's SM-6 senior program director, said the company developed the anti-ballistic missile capability in just seven months after it was requested earlier this year.
The latest, Block IA version of the SM-6 is expected to enter low-rate initial production later this year.
Raytheon has delivered more than 330 SM-6 missiles, with continuing production, and the Pentagon has approved the sale of SM-6 to several allied nations.
$615M for newest SM-3
Separately, the MDA this week awarded Raytheon Missile Systems a $615 million contract, with $45 million in fiscal 2017 funding obligated initially, to produce 17 Standard Missile-3 Block IIA ballistic-missile interceptors and perform related work.
The work will be performed in Tucson, with an estimated completion date of March 2020, according to a Pentagon contract notice.