After a complex series of U.S. Navy flight tests, Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) proves it’s ready to reach its final stage of the acquisition process: full operational capability (FOC).
Reaching FOC is a kind of graduation exercise that signifies the weapon’s sea worthiness—no more testing required.
SM-6, produced by Raytheon, is the only missile in the world that can perform anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, and terminal ballistic missile defense.
“The U.S. Navy began deploying SM-6s four years ago, but we’ve continued to give it software upgrades and test it in every possible scenario to learn more about what it could do,” said Mike Campisi, Raytheon’s SM-6 senior program director.
“We’ve continued to raise the bar, and the missile has exceeded it every time.”
Four SM-6 missiles were fired throughout the testing, each against a single shore-launched, sub- or supersonic target. All four test missions were successful.
“The missile is fully ready for deployment in all three modes at sea,” said Campisi. “That kind of flexibility is exactly what our sailors need, and that’s exactly what they’re going to get.”
(The Missile Defense Agency and the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), an Aegis 5.0 (Baseline 9.C1)-equipped destroyer, successfully fired a salvo of two SM-6 Dual I missiles against a medium-range ballistic missile target for the first time off the coast of Hawaii at about midnight on Dec. 14 local time. Credit: MDA and YouTube)
Standard Missile-6: Sophisticated Multi-Mission Warfare
Deployed on cruisers and destroyers in the U.S. Navy, the SM-6 missile provides Joint Force and Strike Force Commanders fleet air defense against all types of aircraft:
- Manned and unmanned
- Land-attack anti-ship cruise missiles in flight
- Ballistic missiles in their terminal, or final, stage of flight over land or sea, and
- Targets on the ocean’s surface
The missile is subsequently considered a triple threat, providing anti-air warfare, sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense and anti-surface warfare.
The SM-6 missile is the most affordable missile per defended area and threat set and continues to perform beyond expectations and its original intended mission. It’s now one missile with three missions.
Vertically launched from a MK 41 VLS canister, the SM-6 missile is compatible with existing AEGIS cruisers and destroyers and future cruisers and destroyers.
The system’s operational modes include semi-active homing and active homing to provide highly accurate target engagement, and it incorporates the advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities of the AMRAAM® air-to-air missile.
SM-6 delivers proven over-the-horizon, air defense through the time-tested advantages of the Standard Missile’s airframe and propulsion.
- SM-6 delivers multi-mission capability for long range Fleet Air Defense, Sea-Based Terminal Defense, and Anti-Surface Warfare.
- SM-6 uses both active and semi-active guidance modes and advanced fuzing techniques.
- It incorporates the advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities from Raytheon’s Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile.
Raytheon has delivered more than 330 SM-6 missiles with continuing production. The U.S. Department of Defense approved the release of SM-6 to several international customers in early 2017.