Navy Missile Hits Subsonic Target Over Land

140619-N-ZZ999-167The Navy and Raytheon recently test-fired a Standard Missile-6 against a low-flying subsonic cruise missile target over land Aug. 14, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

“The test was the Navy’s attempt to demonstrate an intercept of a subsonic, low-altitude target over land, and it did just that,” said CMDR. Sidney Hodgson, deputy program manager for standard missiles.

The test-firing was the second in a series of ten planned tests for the SM-6 during what’s called the Follow-On Test and Evaluation, or FOT&E phase, which is slated to finish in 2016, Raytheon and Navy officials said.

In development for seven years, the SM-6 achieved initial operating capability in 2013. The weapon is designed to provide defensive intercept capability and offensive fire power against anti-ship cruise missiles, fixed and rotary wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The weapon is also slated to perform terminal phase ballistic missile defense.

“It offers the commander extended range capability over the existing SM-2. It offers air defense against fixed and rotary wing targets and anti-ship missiles operating at altitudes ranging from very high to sea-skimming,” Hodgson said.

A key element of the test was to assess the weapon’s ability to discern a target that is slow-moving and among clutter, Raytheon officials said.

“At this speed, among clutter, you are looking for discrimination and how well the missile is able to discriminate when something is flying low. The success of the test was wrapped around the fact that it involved a subsonic target at a very low altitude,” said Mike Campisi, program manager for standard missiles, Raytheon.

The SM-6 is able to discriminate targets by using a dual-mode seeker using both active and semi-active modes. While using the semi-active seeker technology, the missile relies on a ship-based illuminator to highlight the target, whereas using active-mode the missile itself sends out an electromagnetic signal, or ping, Campisi explained.

Being able to successfully discern a slow-moving target such as a land-launched cruise missile has the potential to provide significant tactical advantage. For instance, the active seeker could help the SM-6 find a cruise missile launched from behind a mountain.

In June of this year, Raytheon received a $275 million contract modification for SM-6 production. Overall, the Navy’s program of record calls for delivery of 1,800 missiles, 250 of which are already on contract.

The SM-6 could prove a strategically vital asset in light of the rapid technological progress of potential adversaries developing anti-ship missiles, such as China, Iran and North Korea.

Campisi explained that the multi-mission SM-6 is engineered with the aerodynamics of an SM-2 and the propulsion booster stack of an SM-3. On the front end, it’s configured like an Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, AMRAAM.

The Navy plans to put the SM-6 onto cruisers and destroyers, Hodgson said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Matt

    Commander is abbreviated CDR. “Deputy Program Manager” is a title and should be capitalized. “Standard Missile” is a proper noun and should also be capitalized in this context A military blog ought to know these things…

    I’m guessing since they mentioned clutter that the kill vehicle comes in from above the target? Cool.

    • Bob

      Some people just love to criticize! First, the article did in fact use the proper noun “Standard Missile” while referring to the actual name of the weapon. The lower case “standard missiles” was used in the generic sense, as in describing a general class of weaponry and is the correct usage. Looks like the egg is on YOUR face! Stick to the pros and cons of article. Constructive arguments are much more palatable than silly attacks against the blogger.

      • blight_asdf

        “Mike Campisi, program manager for standard missiles, Raytheon.”
        “said CMDR. Sidney Hodgson, deputy program manager for standard missiles.”
        “The Navy and Raytheon recently test-fired a Standard Missile-6”

        This doesn’t sound like the generic case (unless Raytheon makes all missiles). However, looks like the blogger did get it right the first time.

    • Sling

      In your comment a period should be used after the word “context” to designate the end of the sentence.

  • Ronald Freeman

    Good job Raytheon, I worked with them on Sparrow and Phalanx systems during my tenure with them and absolutely loved it. Working DOD gives one a sense of patriotism and the technology is exciting. Kudos and keep up the good work.

  • TonyC.

    The ability to discern a target in a cluttered environment is important. This will be of great value to the US Navy in an engagement with surface skimming bombers or missiles. The AMRAAM has look down/shoot down capability and it was a clear choice for the sensors.

  • blight_asdf

    Air-launched Standards, let’s do this!

  • rtsy

    It’s nice to see a successful program get some press for a change.

  • Mystick

    They are up to “6” already?

  • Hunter76

    Congratulations on shooting down a low altitude, subsonic target.

    Isn’t this the same mission the Aegis Combat System was supposed to cover?

    As for clutter, did the test include normal battlefield clutter like multiple targets, decoys, jamming, friendly aircraft, shells, shrapnel, chaff, airliners?

    Wasn’t the SM-2 supposed to be operational until 2035?


    I used to read the comments of this section to get insight from folks who might have productive things to add.

    Now it’s just grammar nazis and disrespect toward each other with a dose of political polarism.


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