Raytheon to provide 62 ship-based Standard Missiles 3 SM-3 RIM-161 to U.S. and foreign Navy

Raytheon has been awarded a $1.02 Billion contract modification from the Missile Defense Agency to provide a total of 62 Standard Missile-3 SM-3 RIM-161 all-up rounds to U.S. and foreign military sales customers. The SM-3® interceptor is a defensive weapon the U.S. Navy uses to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Raytheon to provide 62 ship based Standard Missile 3 SM 3 RIM 161 to U.S. and foreign Navy 925 001 A Standard Missile (SM-3) is launched from the Aegis combat system equipped Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) during a Missile Defense Agency ballistic missile flight test. (Picture source US Navy)

The company's missile systems business will provide the material, management services and other support needed for the procurement, assembly and production of the SM-3 interceptors, the Department of Defense said December 20, 2019. 

The SM-3 interceptor uses sheer force, rather than an explosive warhead, to destroy its target. Its “kill vehicle” hits threats with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 mph. This technique, referred to as “hit-to-kill,” has been likened to intercepting a bullet with another bullet.

The SM-3 interceptor is a critical piece of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe. The interceptor is being carried by U.S. Navy ships deployed off Europe’s coast and is now operational at a land-based site in Romania, further enhancing Europe’s protection. When the next land-based SM-3 interceptor site becomes operational in Poland, all of Europe will be defended from ballistic missile attacks.

The flexibility of the SM-3 interceptor to be both land- and sea-based offers countries that do not have ballistic missile defense-enabled navies to take advantage of the incredible capacity to protect large areas of land. This is often referred to as regional defense. The SM-3 missile can cover larger areas with fewer installations, when compared to other "lower tier" missile defense solutions.

Belgium wants to have SM-3 missiles on their two new frigates to protect themselves and their allies from ballistic missile threats. Belgium and the Netherlands are making 4 new frigates (2 frigates per country).

The SM-3 block IA version provides an incremental upgrade to improve reliability and maintainability at a reduced cost.

The SM-3 block IB, due in 2010, offers upgrades which include an advanced two-color infrared seeker, and a 10-thruster solid throttling divert and attitude control system (TDACS/SDACS) on the kill vehicle to give it improved capability against maneuvering ballistic missiles or warheads. Solid TDACS is a joint Raytheon/Aerojet project, but Boeing supplies some components of the kinetic warhead. With block IB and associated ship-based upgrades, the Navy gains the ability to defend against medium range missiles and some Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles.

SM-3 block II will widen the missile body to 21 in and decrease the size of the maneuvering fins. It will still fit in Mk41 vertical launch systems, and the missile will be faster and have longer range.

The SM-3 block IIA is a joint Raytheon/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries project, block IIA will add a larger diameter kill vehicle that is more maneuverable, and carries another sensor/ discrimination upgrade. It was scheduled to debut around 2015, whereupon the Navy will have a weapon that can engage some intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The SM-3 Block IA/B has an operational range of 900 km (560 miles) while the Block IIA has an operational range of 2,500 km (1,550 miles).