The US Navy's latest missile interceptor design was successfully tested during a trial launch and strike sortie carried out in the Pacific Ocean on 9 May 2012.
The Raytheon SM-3 Block 1B is the most recent update of the well-established Standard Missile 3 ship-launched missile system, used to counter short-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Also designated the RIM-161C, the SM-3 Block IB adds to earlier versions a high-tech two-colour infrared seeker and the highly advanced TDACS (Throttling Divert and Attitude Control System), which boosts its flight characteristics.
SM-3 Block IB Test Launch
According to a statement now released by MDA (the Missile Defense Agency), the SM-3 Block IB test launch saw the interceptor take down a ballistic missile somewhere close to Hawaii. This was the second such trial launch to have been carried out, after an unsuccessful sortie some eight months earlier.
This latest SM-3 will form part of a missile defence shield being set up by the US at various European host sites and, over the coming decade or so, it's envisaged that ever-more capable interceptors will be deployed to counter the perceived threat of North Korean and/or Iranian missiles.
US Navy SM-3 Missile Trial
"Raytheon has delivered more than 130 SM-3 Block IAs ahead of schedule and under cost", Raytheon Missile Systems' Air and Missile Defense Systems vice president, Wes Kremer, explained in a company press release on the US Navy SM-3 missile trial. "We are on track to deliver the SM-3 Block IB to the nation by 2015, for deployment at sea and ashore."
"This next-generation variant of the SM-3 is critical to the ballistic missile defense of the US and our allies, because it can defeat the more sophisticated threats emerging around the world today", Raytheon Missile Systems president, Doctor Taylor Lawrence added.
As reported by Armed Forces International, in November 2011, it was announced that the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor would start a phase of liquid fuel tests. Some six months prior to that, the US Navy got its first production SM-6.
Image copyright US Navy - used solely for representational purposes