Farnborough Air Show

Successful SM-3 Test Keeps PAA On Target

 - July 9, 2012, 7:29 PM

In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a “phased adaptive approach” (PAA) for the missile defense of Europe to be deployed in four phases with a mix of sea- and land-based assets. A critical element is the Raytheon Standard Missile 3 interceptor, which in its Block 1A configuration forms the basis of PAA Phase I capability, which has now been implemented.

Raytheon is now developing the Block 1B version of the missile in line with the implementation of PAA Phase II in 2015. On June 26 the third flight test (FTM-18) of this version was conducted at the Pacific Missile Test Range in Hawaii, during which the SM-3’s hit-to-kill vehicle successfully engaged a separating ballistic missile target. The initial three shots tested the missile’s basic end-to-end operation, but trials will now increase in complexity toward operationally representative tests. The next trial, FTM-19, is due before the end of this year.

Under Phase II of PAA, SM-3s and the associated Aegis missile defense system are to be based in Romania. Phase III follows in 2018 with the deployment of SM-3 Block IIA weapons in Poland. The Block IIA introduces an advanced TDACS (throttleable divert and attitude control system) for more accurate intercepts.

Phase IV of PAA, due in 2020, has yet to be defined. Raytheon has introduced an architecture analysis tool that provides the information necessary to optimize Europe’s integrated air and missile defenses by allowing analysis of many variables, such as where to place assets and how to incorporate existing assets into the layered defense. The effects of adding sensors or interceptors can be evaluated so that investments can be targeted for optimal results. This is entirely in line with NATO’s “Smart Defense” policy.

Under PAA, NATO assets are to be integrated into U.S. defensive systems to extend a robust coverage across Europe. When Phase 3 is complete, the U.S. assets of the two land locations plus two upgraded Aegis ships in the Mediterranean will cover most of eastern and southern Europe. Integration of ship-based air defense systems from European NATO members would extend that coverage to the whole of the continent.

In the meantime, Raytheon has announced two related developments. The company is nearing the completion of a new facility at the Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, to produce all-up rounds for the SM-3 and SM-6 missiles. Initial missiles will be delivered from next year. The company has also received a $636 million contract to provide an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) for Boeing’s ground-based midcourse defense program, better known as the GBI (ground-based interceptor).