Raytheon [RTN] is contemplating expanding its Redstone Arsenal facility in Huntsville, Ala., to accommodate the Navy’s request for nearly doubling the company’s Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) production rate, according to a Raytheon official.
Raytheon Senior Director for SM-6 Mike Campisi told reporters Aug. 5 the company is currently producing about eight-to-10 SM-6s every month. Raytheon has produced 205 SM-6s since the beginning of low-rate initial production (LRIP), he said. Raytheon was sole-sourced an LRIP contract by the Navy in March 2012 for SM-6.
Campisi said Raytheon has hired people, adjusted schedules on second and third shifts and added test equipment to accommodate additional SM-6 production. Campisi said Raytheon is discussing adding to test facilities at its Redstone Arsenal location, where it produces, performs final assembly and tests SM-6 and SM-3.
Campisi also said Raytheon recorded a first over the weekend in the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) flight test events, including flying the sea-based terminal code-set for SM-6. He said the third and fourth flights were significant because the company successfully engaged the target after performing regression testing on SM-6 to make sure it didn’t degrade any of its previous mission sets or anti-air warfare (AAW) mission sets. He said SM-6 is a semi-active and active missile, so it is initially guided by ship-based radar, then the missile takes over and does its own thing.
In the third flight, an AQM-37C cruise missile target was air-launched to replicate an air-warfare threat. The USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) detected, tracked and successfully engaged the target using a SM-6 Dual I missile. In the fourth flight, a BQM-74E cruise missile target was launched. The USS John Paul Jones detected, tracked and successfully engaged the target using a SM-6 Dual I missile. The SM-6’s proximity-fuze warhead was programmed not to detonate after reaching the lethal distance from the target in the third flight, thus providing the ability to recover and reuse the BQM-74E target.
Campisi said the second flight was also significant because it showed that changes to Aegis did not degrade any capability with the SM-2 Block IV missile in its single mission of going after sea based terminal or ballistic missile threats. He said SM-2 is a semi-active missile, which means the ship has to guide the missile all the way to target. In the second flight, the John Paul Jones detected, tracked and launched an SM-2 Block IV missile, resulting in a successful target intercept of a short range ballistic missile (SRBM) target launched in a northwesterly trajectory.
Campisi said Raytheon learned that the SM-6 and the entire Aegis BMD system was “far more capable” than previously experienced.
“We simulated it and we had conclusions,” Campisi said. “But until you really fly it and pull the data off it, you can’t be sure.”
Raytheon spokesman Heather Uberuaga said Aug. 5 the company plans to reach initial operational capability (IOC) with SM-6 Dual I in 2016. Uberuaga said the first flight event, on July 29, was the first time SM-6 Dual I was used to take out a ballistic missile.
Lockheed Martin [LMT] also participated in the tests with its Aegis Combat System, according to a company statement.