CONTENT PREVIEW
Weapons

SM-3 Block IIA missile scores hit in first intercept test

07 February 2017

Key Points

  • Flight test SFTM-01 was flown on 3 February from the USS John Paul Jones
  • The next flight test, SFTM-02, is already in planning

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Japanese Ministry of Defense and US Navy (USN) have successfully conducted a first intercept of a ballistic missile target using a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile.

Designated SM-3 Block IIA Cooperative Development (SCD) Project Flight Test, Standard Missile (SFTM)-01, the 3 February test from USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) also marked the first launch of an SM-3 Block IIA missile from an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) ship, and the first intercept engagement using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) weapon system.

Scheduled for deployment at sea and ashore from 2018 as part of the Aegis BMD system, the SM-3 Block IIA missile - a co-development effort between the governments of the United States and Japan - is designed to deliver a capability to defend against short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats in both the ascent and midcourse phases of flight.

While building on technology already fielded in the SM-3 Block 1A and Block 1B interceptors, the Block IIA is redesigned to incorporate 'full-calibre' 21-inch diameter second- and third-stage rocket motors, providing a significant increase in acceleration, velocity, and range. The Block IIA missile also features a larger, more capable kinetic warhead with a two-colour seeker and a new Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System (TDACS).

Raytheon Missile Systems is responsible for SM-3 Block IIA development and production; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is Japanese prime contractor for Block IIA development, and subcontractor to Raytheon for production. MHI's scope for development and production covers the second- and third-stage motors, the steering control section, and the nose cone.

SFTM-01 was the third flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile, but the first intercept attempt.

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The SM-3 Block IIA missile on course to intercept a ballistic missile target seconds after launch from USS John Paul Jones. (Missile Defense Agency)The SM-3 Block IIA missile on course to intercept a ballistic missile target seconds after launch from USS John Paul Jones. (Missile Defense Agency)



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