Standard Missile-3 (SM-3)
Raytheon [RTN] produces all variants of the Standard Missile, including SM-3 designed to provide a sea-based missile defense capability against incoming short to medium range ballistic missiles. SM-3 is under development by Raytheon at its Missile Systems business unit in Tucson, Ariz.
SM-3 is designed to intercept an incoming theater ballistic missile outside the earth’s atmosphere. The kinetic warhead is based on technology developed during the Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile program.
In a combat scenario, SM-3 would be fired from an Aegis ship operating off a coast to provide a layer of defense against enemy ballistic missiles. Recently, the Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have been flight testing the system to determine its ability to take out missiles in their ascent phase of flight. Currently the SM-3 is being flight tested in the Sea-based Midcourse Defense (SMD) program. The current missile defense plan calls for production by the end of 2005 of between 10 and 20 Standard Missile-3s for deployment on three Aegis ships converted to the missile defense mission.
There currently are no foreign operators of the SM-3 for a missile defense capability. However, there has been much interest in the SMD test program and SM-3, particularly from Japan, indicating foreign buys could be possible down the road.
The SM-3 will continue to be the primary missile for the Navy and MDA in the SMD program for the foreseeable future. The SM-3 enjoyed a good run of three successful intercepts of ballistic missile targets in tests off the coast of Hawaii until a failed attempt in June. Since that time, the Navy, MDA and contractor have been evaluating the incident and compiling lessons learned for the future tests flights and further growth of the SMD system. In that last flight test, designated Flight Mission-5 (FM-5), an Aries target missile was launched at 7:15 p.m. EDT from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, and the crew of Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70), located off shore, launched the SM-3 interceptor missile about two minutes later. The SM-3 was expected to take out the target during its ascent phase of flight. MDA officials later reported the kill vehicle separated from the booster and locked on the target missile before loosing control. A more thorough report on lessons learned is expected to be released soon from MDA. The primary objective of the test was to evaluate the SM-3 kinetic warhead’s guidance, navigation and control operation in space using an upgraded solid divert and attitude control system (SDACS). While flight tests using an earlier version of the SDACS were successful, the lessons learned from those flight tests and preceding ground tests have been incorporated into this new design to improve performance and improved production, according to MDA. Regardless of the outcome of the flight test investigation, SM-3 tests are expected to continue well into the future, with the missile expected to continue as the weapon of choice as the Navy upgrades its Aegis ships for the missile defense mission. FM-5 was the second of a planned six flight test series within the missile defense Block 2004 time period to develop a sea-based ballistic missile defense against short to intermediate range ballistic missiles. Also, FM-5 was the second developmental flight test against more complex, stressing, and operationally realistic ballistic missile engagement scenarios. Increases in operational realism in this test include the addition of the up-range Aegis destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59) that provided cueing to the Lake Erie during the test. Program officials maintain the use of the SM-3 in conjunction with the Aegis ships is a benefit in the overall plan for a layered ballistic missile defense system. Currently, the U.S. Navy operates 65 Aegis ships with 24 more on the books. Those ships give commanders the flexibility to forward deploy to any location globally to either fire directly against threats or provide threat and track data back to other shooters, program officials contend. In addition, the SMD system offers options for future international participation, officials said. Currently, Japan has four Aegis ships on order, South Korea has three on order, Norway has five on order and Spain has one deployed with another three on order. In November 2002, the Navy and MDA scored the third consecutive hit in the SMD program. Also during that test an SM-3 was fired from Lake Erie to engage the ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility. The SM- 3 demonstrated its ability to switch aimpoint before final target intercept. Program officials said a similar aimpoint maneuver was planned to take place in FM-5. The benefit of switching the aimpoint is to increase the lethality of the kill by placing the interceptor in a location for the best hit, officials said. Meanwhile Lockheed Martin also is proceeding with upgrades to the Aegis capabilities for future tests and deployment. Under the current SMD plan, by the end of 2005, MDA and the Navy will upgrade the SPY-1 radars on 15 Aegis warships for enhanced surveillance and track capabilities. Two Aegis cruisers in addition to the Lake Erie, the designated test cruiser, also will receive BMD engagement modifications.