The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has successfully tested the Orbital ATK-developed enhanced MK 136 third stage rocket motor (TSRM) nozzle on Raytheon's Standard Missile (SM) 3 Block IB at the Pacific Missile Range facility.
The enhanced TSRM nozzle is designed to offer greater performance and extended reliability for the SM-3 Block IB missile.
During testing, the missiles were launched from a US Navy Aegis destroyer off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.
The two flight tests were conducted to further validate the performance of the enhanced TSRM nozzle.
Orbital ATK Missile Products division of the Defence Systems Group vice-president and general manager Pat Nolan said: "Orbital ATK continues to work with its partners on the SM-3 team to successfully evolve the most advanced solid rocket subsystem ever fielded.
"These successful tests demonstrate our on-going commitment to the SM-3 programme and ensure we have a capable and reliable system for the defence of our nation and allies."
Additionally, the tests confirmed the results seen in the full-scale ground tests conducted at Orbital ATK's facility in Elkton, Maryland, and at the Air Force Rocket Laboratory test facility on Edwards Air Force Base.
Orbital ATK's enhanced MK 136 TSRM is a rocket motor, with thrust vector control nozzle, and an attitude control system to ensure TSRM optimises the trajectory before detaching the kill vehicle for final intercept.
It also allows the SM-3 Block IB guided missile to address several threats as it intercepts and destroys the in-bound threat.
Image: A SM-3 missile being launched from USS Lake Erie. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.