SM-6 Demonstrates Warfighting Capability Against Air and Surface Targets

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The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship's aegis weapons system. Photo: US Navy
The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship’s aegis weapons system in 2014. Photo: US Navy

The Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) continues to demonstrate its prowess in operational tests – in a challenging multi-threat intercept test SM-6 missiles successfully engaged five targets, struck a surface target and shattered its previous maximum engagement range record, set in June of 2014. In recent testing SM-6 has shown expanded mission capability in three key areas: Anti-Air Warfare, Sea-Based Terminal and Anti-Surface Warfare.

The test series supported by the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), validated the tactical warfighting capability of SM-6, by demonstrating both maximum down range and a maximum cross range intercepts in over-the-horizon, engage-on-remote missions. The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG 53), configured with AEGIS Baseline 9.C1, executed the series of four missions with five SM-6 missiles for Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation (FOT&E), part of the final testing leading to a likely declaration of Full Operational Capability in 2017.

The Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS GRIDLEY (DDG 101) was on station to perform as the AEGIS assist ship for the engage-on-remote missions. The tests also proved the ability of SM-6 to conduct complex, multiple target scenarios. In prior tests JOHN PAUL JONES also tested the SM-6 Dual-1 missiles, fitted with a software update that lets the missile identify, track and kill ballistic missile warheads. First launched in July 2015, Raytheon’s SM-6 ‘Dual 1’ is expected to continue flight testing in 2016, as part of the Missile Defense Agency’s Sea-Based Terminal program.

[/nonmember]This is an excerpt of the 550 word article available to defense-Update subscribers[/nonmember]

A Standard Missile-6 is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy. The missile’s final assembly takes place at Raytheon’s state-of-the-art SM-6 and SM-3 all-up-round production facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. Photo: Raytheon
A Standard Missile-6 is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy. The all-up-round production facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. is where final assembly of SM-3 and SM-6 takes place. Photo: Raytheon
[ismember]The flights included four intercepts with five missiles. Flight test Alpha was the longest downrange, and flight test Bravo was the longest cross-range intercepts with an SM-6 to date. Along with flight tests Alpha and Bravo, flight test Delta successfully intercepted two targets with simultaneous engagements, and flight test Golf successfully intercepted a target with electronic counter-measures.

As part of the test series SM-6 were also fired at surface targets — the decommissioned USS Reuben James (FFG 57). This segment was verified the weapon system’s capability to support the U.S. Navy’s concept of “distributed lethality,” employing ships in dispersed formations to increase the offensive might of the surface force and enabling future options for the joint force commander. The mission validated that the legacy Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) capability of the Standard Missile-2 family of missiles and the MK7 Aegis Weapon System (AWS) has successfully carried over to SM-6 and the latest Aegis Destroyer baseline 9.

The surface strike modification will give the Navy’s fleet of guided missile cruisers and destroyers a Mach 3.5 supersonic weapon with a range of more than 200 nautical miles. Along with the recently announced modification to the Block IV Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM), the US Navy is pushing more offensive capability in its large surface combatants. The new capability will be part of Baseline 9 upgrade of Arleigh Burke destroyers (DDG-51).

The FOT&E phase includes 10 separate tests campaigns spanned over three years. Raytheon has delivered more than 250 SM-6 missiles, which were deployed for the first time in 2013. The SM-6 is the latest effector operationally deployed with the AWS since 2013. Providing over-the-horizon, air defense capability, SM-6 uses both active and semi-active guidance modes and advanced fuzing techniques to defeat air and surface targets, providing long-range Fleet Air Defense and Sea-Based Terminal Defense. The missile is effective against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise and ballistic missiles. The SM-6 is the sixth fielded variant of the Standard Missile family. Based on the Standard Missile heritage, SM-6 incorporates the advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities of Raytheon’s Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).[/ismember]