The US Navy has carried out a first-time paired SM-3 Block 1B missile launch against a short-range ballistic missile in a test conducted in September 2013.
The Standard Missile-3s were launched one after the other from the USS Lake Erie Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser. Conforming to pre-mission requirements, the first missile took out the airborne target. It wasn't planned that the second missile would engage with the target but, as anticipated, the launch yielded valuable data on multiple weapons deployments.
The trial represented the 25th time that Standard Missiles-3s have been launched and the fourth consecutive launch involving the new-generation SM-3 Block 1B version.
Standard Missile-3 Block 1B
The Standard Missile-3 Block 1B is an upgrade of the SM-3 Block 1A, which is in widespread military service. It boasts an augmented dual-colour infrared seeker and another new feature - the Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System.
Between them, the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force are equipped with over 155 SM-3 missiles. The SM-3 Block 1B follow-up is both land and sea-deployable and initial system deliveries will take place in 2015, according to current scheduling.
The missile is produced by Raytheon, which employs more than 68,000 people and, last year, achieved a sales total of $24 billion.
SM-3 Block 1B Test Launch
"Confidence in the SM-3 Block IB's defensive capability continues to grow with each flight test", Raytheon Missile Systems president, Doctor Taylor Lawrence, explained in the firm's SM-3 Block 1B test launch press release. "When this weapon deploys in 2015, the US and our allies will have a tremendously reliable, capable defensive asset on their side."
"We're gaining a tremendous amount of information about what this missile can do, and in many instances it is far surpassing design requirements", added Raytheon Missile Systems' SM-3 programme director, Doctor Mitch Stevison. "The SM-3 Block IB is proving it can take on increasingly sophisticated scenarios, and that kind of confidence sets the stage for a production decision."