NATO ESSM Block 2 Successfully Intercepts Test Target

NATO’s Seasparrow Project Office completed the first successful intercept flight test of the Raytheon [RTN]-built Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 with its new active guidance seeker-head, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday.

The ESSM Block 2 intercepted a Northrop Grumman [NOC] BQM-74E aerial target. The missile is planned to include both semi-active and active guidance to meet current and potential future threats.

Spanish frigate Alvaro de Bazan (F-101) launches an ESSM missile to intercept a simulated enemy missile during the Formidable Shield 17 exercise. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Spanish frigate Alvaro de Bazan (F-101) launches an ESSM missile to intercept a simulated enemy missile during the Formidable Shield 17 exercise. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Previously, the mission completed two controlled test vehicle flight tests in June 2017. This was the first in a series of live fire tests before the ESSM Block 2 enters production.

“This flight test is critical to demonstrating the technology for the ESSM Block 2. I am very proud of the entire NATO Seasparrow Project Team, from our industry partners to our field activities and test facilities, for all the extensive work that went into making this event a success,” Capt. Bruce Schuette, project manager for the NATO Seasparrow Project, said in a statement.

The ESSM is a medium-range ship-launched self-defense missile and international cooperative upgrade of the RIM-7 Seasparrow missile. It is being developed as part of the 50-year old Seasparrow Project, a 12-country NATO international consortium with the members partnering in the engineering, development, production, and sustainment of the Seasparrow missiles and their supporting equipment. It is the longest running cooperative weapons program in NATO.

The ESSM Block 1 is currently in service as a semi-active-guided missile.

Last May, Raytheon won a $77 million contract to transition the ESSM Block 2 from the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase into low-rate manufacturing and production of the missiles (Defense Daily, May 21).

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