USS Zumwalt test-fires first standard missile

It was a critical test of how well the U.S. Navy’s newest stealth destroyer can defend itself.

The goal: To use a SM-2 interceptor to destroy a target acting as a cruise missile. The challenge: To ensure the radar, the launch system, the ship’s computers and the interceptor itself all worked together, and that the ship could withstand the shock and vibration of the interceptor’s launch.

In the first such test over Naval Air Weapons Center Weapons Division Sea Test Range near Point Mugu, California, a Raytheon Missiles & Defense SM-2 interceptor destroyed an anti-ship cruise missile target at sea. The test demonstrated how well USS Zumwalt could detect, track and engage the threat target with an SM-2.

“Today’s successful test not only demonstrates the ship’s capability to fire missiles and conduct self-defense, it is also a significant step toward more advanced combat system testing and operations for our Navy’s most technically innovative warship,” said Capt. Matt Schroeder, DDG 1000 program manager.

USS Zumwalt fires missile for the first time. (Video: U.S. Naval Institute)

The test featured five systems produced by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies:

  • AN/SPY-3 radar.
  • MK57 Vertical Launch System.
  • Cooperative Engagement Capability.
  • SM-2 Block IIIA missile.
  • Zumwalt Total Ship Computing Environment combat system.

“From radar detection to missile intercept, our systems were at the heart of this successful test and continue to provide a vital role in defense of ships and sailors around the globe,” said Kim Ernzen, Naval Power mission area vice president at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

The ship’s stealth and ability to operate in both the open-ocean and near-shore environments create new complexities for potential adversaries, according to a Navy press release.