The sky is not the limit

Accelerating the evolution of missile defense technologies

Raytheon Technologies' Standard Missiles played key roles in Formidable Shield 19, a multi-nation, air- and missile-defense exercise held on May 1-19, 2019. The event was aimed at ensuring systems run by the U.S. and its allies work together. (Video: U.S. Navy)

When missiles become more dangerous, the technologies that defend against them must become more effective.

The development of interceptor technology must keep pace with today's ever-increasing number of countries with ballistic missiles. Technologies to defend against those missiles include sensors, command and control, and a host of interceptors.

Raytheon Technologies continually evolves its radar systems and Standard Missile interceptors, which include the SM-2, SM-3® and SM-6®, each designed for a specific part of a layered defense strategy.

“Few missiles are started from scratch,” said Dr. Mitch Stevison, a vice president at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies. “We've taken the best components of the best systems to create versatile powerhouses like the SM-3 and the SM-6.”

SM-2: Low-altitude pursuit

The SM-2 chases threats closer to the water's surface, defending against anti-ship missiles and aircraft out to 90 nautical miles. 

Raytheon Technologies restarted the production line in 2017, when four allies – The Netherlands, South Korea, Australia and Japan – pooled resources to make a "bundle" purchase. The storied missile resumed production, this time in a modernized, reconfigured factory.  

The company plans to flight-test the Block IIIB variant from the restarted line in early 2020. The Navy intends to use that version through 2035.

SM-3: From land or sea

The U.S. Navy uses the SM-3 interceptor for regional defense against short-to-intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It can launch from land and at sea.

Raytheon Technologies and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are partnering to make a next-generation IIA variant that's equipped with a new rocket motor, doubling the range of earlier interceptors. The new variant has a larger "kill vehicle" instead of a warhead. It uses sheer impact to knock out an attacking missile.

“We improved the guidance, we improved the propulsion, we improved the sensor,” said Reid Davis, a business development director at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. 

In late 2019, Raytheon Technologies won a $1 billion U.S. Missile Defense Agency contract to produce 62 Block IIA interceptors. The agreement funded production for 2018 and 2019, and a contract for 2020 is forthcoming.

SM-6: Go the distance

The SM-6 is a long-range, multi-mission missile that can strike ballistic missiles and operate from either land or at sea. It can hit in either of two phases of an attacking missile's flight: shortly after launch or in its terminal phase, as it’s falling to earth.

A revamped production line and other efforts brought the SM-6 in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Raytheon Technologies has delivered more than 500 SM-6 missiles to the Navy.

SPY-6: Eyes ahead

Raytheon Technologies' AN/SPY-6(V)1 radar, or SPY-6, works with SM-3 and SM-6 by helping ships detect, acquire and track ballistic missiles and other dangers in the air and on the sea.

SPY-6 is the Navy's family of scalable, next-generation air-and-missile-defense radars. These sensors are being installed on seven classes of ships, including destroyers, large-deck amphibious ships, aircraft carriers and frigates.  

In December 2019, the company received a Navy contract to build two additional radar shipsets, bringing the total to nine to be installed on DDG-51 Flight III destroyers.

Published On: 12/13/2019