Aegis Radar Destroyer

Battlespace Tech

Navy SM-6 software upgrades expand attack missions

The Navy’s Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced the successful test of the surface-to-air Standard Missile–6 Block I (SM–6 Blk I) last month with software packages for air warfare, ballistic missile sea-based defense, and anti-surface warfare, giving the missile a multi-mission capability.

 “We’ve validated that the latest SM–6 Blk I tri-mission capable software is ready to be delivered to our sailors,” said Capt. Michael Ladner, Program Manager for Surface Chip Weapons.

The new SM–6 Blk I incorporates the propulsion system of the SM–2 Blk IV missile, but is the first surface-to-air missile to carry the radar system of the Advance Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM), according to Raytheon, the SM-6 industry developer. Raytheon said that with the AMRAAM radar system it can operate in either a semi-active homing mode, meaning signals are emitted across a wide area and the return signals are analyzed to locate and identify potential threats, or an active homing mode.

The SM–6 Blk I can be launched from the Aegis warship and has updated GPS capabilities for attacks on both land and sea-base targets beyond visual detection, according to NAVSEA.

This ability is particularly important for the anti-surface warfare software package, which allows the SM–6 Blk I to identify ships beyond the horizon, track them, and target them, according to the Naval Transformation Roadmap. Launched from the Aegis warship, the SM–6 Blk I’s anti-surface warfare software reinforces sailors’ situational awareness and distances them from enemy engagements.

“These latest flight tests… demonstrate once again the versatile capability of SM–Blk I,” said Ladner. Aside from versatility, the three types of mission software included in the SM–6 Blk I missile make it more cost-effective as a three-for-one technology, according to Raytheon.

The missile was first tested in 2013 using a decommissioned Navy frigate as a target. The latest test just last month included four test flights. NAVSEA reported the results confirm that the SM–6 Blk I missile on schedule for initial operational capability this fall.

About the Author

Katherine Owens is a freelance reporter for Defense Systems

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