The Buzz

Here Is Another Big Reason Why America's Mighty Missile Defenses Dominate

“You now have a multi-mission capability with one missile. That means that this missile could be moved at any ship at any time and have the exact same capability all three mission sets, that isn’t set by hardware or anything else,” Campisi. 

Campisi and Navy leaders emphasize that the fast-changing threat environment means new offensive and defensive technologies need to emerge in order for the US to maintain its edge over potential near-peer rivals. Along these lines, Russian and Chinese missile modernization is by no means lost on US weapons developers. 

"Ballistic missiles have been proven to be launched from any and all platforms, including mobile launches. We see it on the news. When the Russians test their gear, you see their mobile launchers. You can see that the Chinese have mobile launchers. There are fixed base sites and there are ship port sites. They can be launched in virtually any platform," Campisi said. 

The Pentagon simultaneously fired two Standard Missile-6 weapons in rapid succession at a single ballistic missile target to asses new seeker technology and solidify the weapon's ability to ensure destruction of approaching enemy targets. 

Using an emerging "active seeker" technology, two SM-6 missiles were able to simultaneously track and destroy a single target, greatly improving the probability of a target kill. 

"You now have absolute assurance of hit no matter what the threat is doing. If the threat takes a turn and does something weird and the first missile is unable to sense it and engage it, the second missile will," Mike Campisi, SM-6 Senior Director, Raytheon, told Scout Warrior in an interview. 

A statement from the Missile Defense Agency described how a Navy destroyer "fired a salvo of two SM-6 Dual I missiles against a complex medium-range ballistic missile target, demonstrating the Sea Based Terminal endo-atmospheric defensive capability."

Previously, ship-fired interceptor weapons were not able to fire in rapid succession -- one right after the other -- to zero in on a target and increase the prospects for an intercept; this is because the missile relied upon ship-based "illumination" for targeting. 

The SM-6 is unique in several respects; the weapon uses what is called an "active" seeker, meaning it can send a signal or electromagnetic ping forward in addition to receiving them. Electromagnetic signals, which travel at the speed of light, send a signal forward before analyzing the return signal to determine the shape, size, speed or configuration of an approaching threat. Since the speed of light is known, and the time of travel is able to be determined, a computer algorithm is able to calculate the exact distance of an object. Portions of this technology are built into the SM-6, using software upgrades. 

An "active seeker" gives the missile to better attack maneuvering or moving targets at sea, because it does not need to rely upon a ship-based illuminator to bounce a signal off a target for a merely "passive" seeker to receive.

This is the technology which allows a ship commander to fire several SM-6 missiles in more rapid succession or closer to one another in the event that a target needs to be attacked with more than one missile. 

"A ship can illuminate or communicate with the missile -- and at the same time the missile is looking at the target as well.. On a pure active mode it can go on its own," Campisi explained. 

Now, SM-6 "active seeker" technology allows the missile to use its own built-in seeker technology to navigate without needing a ship-based illuminator. 

"We had two missiles in the air and we wanted to make sure that we were in fact pulling in on the target and looking at target versus looking at the other missile that’s in the air. Simulations all said the missile would never look at the other missile in the air however, but it’s nice to prove that. 

Compared with the SM-3, the ship-fired SM-6 interceptor is designed to track and destroy closer-in-threats such as a ballistic missile in the "terminal" phase of decent to its target.

The weapon has been established with an ability to knock out ballistic missiles approaching from the sky. More recently, the weapon has been developed for a number of new "offensive" missions including surface attacks against enemy ships or defensive intercepts against anti-ship missiles closer to the surface.

The SM-6 has also been capable of anti-air defense, equipped with an ability to attack or destroy enemy helicopters, drones and other approaching threats.  The weapon has now been established as defensive, offensive and capable of three distinct missions; they are surface warfare, anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense. 

“You now have a multi-mission capability with one missile. That means that this missile could be moved at any ship at any time and have the exact same capability all three mission sets, that isn’t set by hardware or anything else,” Campisi. 

Campisi and Navy leaders emphasize that the fast-changing threat environment means new offensive and defensive technologies need to emerge in order for the US to maintain its edge over potential near-peer rivals. Along these lines, Russian and Chinese missile modernization is by no means lost on US weapons developers. 

"Ballistic missiles have been proven to be launched from any and all platforms, including mobile launches. We see it on the news. When the Russians test their gear, you see their mobile launchers. You can see that the Chinese have mobile launchers. There are fixed base sites and there are ship port sites. They can be launched in virtually any platform," Campisi said. 

SM-6 for Surface Attack:

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