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Canada approved for SM-2 Block IIIC missile purchase

Canada has been approved to buy the latest medium-range active version of the US Navy’s (USN’s) Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) anti-air missile for its next-generation surface combatant.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 5 November notified Congress that the State Department had approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 100 SM-2 Block IIIC missiles to equip the 15 planned Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) ships. The proposed FMS deal, which would also include associated equipment and services, carries an estimated value of USD500 million.

Borne out of the USN’s SM-2 Improvements programme, the SM-2 Block IIIC missile introduces a new guidance and homing section incorporating a dual-mode (active/semi-active) radar seeker. The new active seeker baseline leverages prior investment in the SM-6 Block I and Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 missiles.

The US Naval Sea Systems Command in December 2018 awarded what is now Raytheon Missiles and Defense a USD149.4 million contract for SM-2 Block IIIC engineering and manufacturing development. Block IIIC production for the USN begins in fiscal year (FY) 2021, with initial operational capability planned for the second quarter of FY 2023.

All previous SM-2 generations have employed semi-active radar homing: the introduction of a medium-range active capability is intended to provide improved stream-raid performance against multiple threats (via target resolution and missile/target pairing logic), increased depth of fire, and improved firepower due to decreased dependence on illuminators.

To realise the full medium-range active capability, the SM-2 Block IIIC missile will also feature modifications to missile hardware and guidance/navigation control functionality. Another activity being performed as part of the SM-2 Improvements programme is an insensitive munitions effort to introduce a single pulse electronic ignition safety device for the MK 104 Dual Thrust Rocket Motor.

Canada plans to equip its new CSC surface combatants with the SM-2 Block IIIC medium-range active missile. (BAE Systems)

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