It's three missiles in one.
Raytheon Technologies' SM-6® missile can perform anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense and anti-surface warfare missions. That means more flexibility for U.S. Navy commanders, who work with limited space onboard ships.
New missions are added to this existing missile through software upgrades only, part of Raytheon Technologies’ effort to rapidly place new capabilities into the hands of U.S. and allied militaries.
"In order to have more power in more places, the Navy is increasing the offensive might of the surface force," said Dr. Mitch Stevison, a vice president at Raytheon, a business of Raytheon Technologies. "The SM-6 is a very capable missile. One missile with one hardware configuration performs all three missions."
Here's how it's done:
- Anti-air warfare: This was the first intended mission for the SM-6 in 2013: Defend ships against enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.
- Ballistic missile defense: In 2015, the missile demonstrated it could protect ships against ballistic missile threats in their final phase of flight.
- Anti-surface warfare: The SM-6 missile engaged its first surface target in 2016, supporting the Navy’s concept of distributed lethality, or the ability to strike from any ship or location. The missile has also repeatedly broken its own record for the longest-range, surface-to-air intercept in naval history.
In response to the Navy’s request to better meet medium-range ballistic missile threats, an SM-6 missile featuring upgraded software successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target in its final seconds of flight in 2017. It was the third time that the missile demonstrated its defense against ballistic missiles.
The SM-6 Block IA missile is the latest variant of the weapon, with improvements to the guidance section. The IA variant passed its final land-based test in 2017, moving it to at-sea testing in 2019.
The missile was put through its paces and exceeded all expectations during rigorous and complex, multiple-target scenarios.
The SM-6 missile is a key component of the Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air mission and is deployable on 60 surface ships. Raytheon Technologies has delivered more than 500 SM-6 missiles to the Navy. Final assembly of the missile takes place at the company’s production facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense approved the sale of the SM-6 missile to several allied nations seeking to bolster their shipbuilding programs.