A team of developers led by US aerospace and defence firm Raytheon has unveiled a brand new version of the well-established Sea Sparrow Surface-to-Air missile.
The RIM-7 Sea Sparrow has been in service since the mid-1970s and was developed from the AIM-7 Sparrow Air-to-Air missile for naval use. Besides by the US Navy, the Sea Sparrow was also purchased by many other organisations including the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Now, over three decades later, the latest Sea Sparrow upgrade has been showcased and it's intended for use by both land and sea forces. The modified design extends the capabilities of the ESSM - the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, which carries the code designation RIM-162.
Sea Sparrow Missile
The naval Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile is a highly-advanced RIM-7 derivative designed to be launched against high-speed and highly-agile anti-ship missiles. Its upgraded features include a boosted rocket motor that powers it up to speeds beyond Mach 4, enhanced aerodynamics and an ultra hi-tech missile guidance system.
ESSM has a range of over 50 kilometres and is compatible with a variety of missile launchers. Already in service with several operators including the Royal Netherlands Navy, ESSM now set to be put into use by a host of land users, too.
Upgraded Sea Sparrow
"Raytheon Missile Systems and its global industrial partners are working to expand ESSM into the ground-based air defense (GBAD) mission area", Captain Paul Rouffaer of the Royal Netherlands Navy explained in a company press release on the upgraded Sea Sparrow, issued 27 June. "The flexibility and versatility of ESSM is demonstrated by its ability to provide ship self defense and GBAD", Capt. Rouffaer - Deputy Sea Sparrow program project officer - added.
"The ESSM program is an excellent example of how Raytheon works through international partnerships to meet the warfighter's needs across multiple platforms", Raytheon Missile Systems Naval Weapon Systems Vice President, Rick Nelson, added. "By expanding the capabilities of ESSM, we extend the performance of this proven weapon throughout the warfighting community."
US Navy ESSM trials began in summer 2002 and, by 2004, the missile had reached IOC - Initial Operational Capability.