The US Navy and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have successfully completed the first ballistic missile intercept flight test of a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA.
SM-3 is a defensive weapon developed by Raytheon that has been designed to defeat short and intermediate range ballistic missile threats.
The anti-ballistic missile was launched by crew members on board the US Navy’s third Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) during the test procedure.
The missile successfully engaged and destroyed a land-launched target intended to simulate an advanced ballistic missile threat.
Raytheon Missile Systems president Dr Taylor W. Lawrence said: “The SM-3 Block IIA programme continues to reflect MDA’s commitment to maturing this regional ballistic missile defence capability for the defence of our nation, its deployed forces and our allies abroad.
“This test's success keeps the programme on track for deployment at sea and ashore in the 2018 timeframe, building on Raytheon's unequalled fifteen-year history of exo-atmospheric intercepts.”
The flight test was also conducted to analyse the missile’s major system performance, which includes the kinetic warhead, steering control section function, nosecone performance, divert and attitude control system functionality, booster performance and separation, as well as the second and third stage rocket motor performance and separation.
The SM-3 Block IIA kinetic warhead has been upgraded to address advanced and emerging threats in addition to enhancements made to the missile’s search, discrimination, acquisition and tracking functions.
Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IIA is slated to be deployed at sea and ashore next year.
The first flight of an SM-3 Block IIA was conducted by the MDA, the Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) and the Japan Ministry of Defense (MOD) in June 2015, while its second flight test was conducted by the US Navy in December the same year.