The US Navy last week approved the Raytheon Standard Missile-6 for use on guided missile destroyers and cruisers with older versions of the Aegis combat system.
The SM-6 is an upgrade in range and the ability to seek out targets over the older SM-2. It is the first weapon to be tied into the service’s emerging Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter Air (NIFC-CA) scheme as part of Aegis Baseline 9 upgrades to the Navy’s guided missile destroyers and cruisers.
The SM-6, in a NIFC-CA context, could ingest targeting information from an off-board sensor – like an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and attack a target beyond the range of the radars on the ship.
However, the SM-6s used with the older Aegis combat systems wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the remote targeting capability in NIFC-CA, Naval Sea Systems Command told USNI News on Monday.
What SM-6s bring to the older combat systems starting with Baseline 5.3 is an improved set of seekers and a greater range, Mike Campisi Raytheon’s SM-6 senior program director was quoted as saying by USNI News.
“There was a lot evaluation that went on between the Navy and ourselves. The conclusion was that we need to release SM-6 to ships that have Baseline 5.3,” Campisi added.
“It has active and semi-active (seekers) You can utilize that capability and SM-6 has far longer legs than an SM-2. You get the long-range and you get the high degree of discrimination and you get the active mode” Camisi said.
Raytheon has delivered 160 SM-6s to the Navy so far ahead of an anticipated full-rate production in April. The Navy could acquire up to 1,800 SM-6s.
The company and the service are also testing SM-6s as a counter to ballistic missiles in a so-called “sea-based terminal” configuration – missile threats that are in the final portion of their flight before hitting a target.