Raytheon to build Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missiles with electro-optical guidance for missile defense

June 17, 2022
Missile guidance has new kill vehicle, new attitude control system, upgraded communications, and an improved two-color electro-optical seeker.

DAHLGREN, Va. – Raytheon Technologies Corp. will build surface warship- and land-based missiles designed to acquire, track, and destroy incoming ballistic missiles under terms of an $866.6 million contract announced on Tuesday.

Officials of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, Va., are asking the Raytheon Missile Systems segment in Tucson, Ariz., to manufacture and assemble RIM-161 Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missiles for the U.S. military and the government of Japan.

The Standard Missile-3 is a Navy hit-to-kill ballistic missile defense interceptor designed to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It uses an exoatmospheric kill vehicle that crashes into the incoming ballistic missile target during its mid-course phase in space.

Related: Navy asks L3Harris to integrate electro-optical sensors for ship self-defense against cruise missiles

The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor guidance system has a new kill vehicle with new solid throttling divert and attitude control system (SDACS), upgraded communications, and an improved two-color electro-optical seeker. Measuring 21.5 feet long and 21 inches in diameter, the missile is about the size of a telephone pole.

The Block IIA seeker has more than double the sensitivity and more than three times the divert capability of the Block IB, MDA officials say. Its sensitivity and ability to communicate with the ground enable the IIA interceptors to act as additional sensors to help other interceptors discriminate between real inbound ballistic missile warheads and decoys.

The massive collision of the kill vehicle hitting its target obliterates the incoming ballistic missile and its warheads, Raytheon officials say; explosives are not necessary. The resulting impact is the equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 miles per hour.

Related: Raytheon to provide electro-optical targeting kits for cruise missile defense aboard surface warships

The Standard Missile-3 launches from the U.S. Navy Vertical Launch System (VLS) aboard Navy destroyers and cruisers, as well as from and Aegis Ashore sites. The missile has an enhanced two-color infrared seeker and upgraded steering and propulsion capability that uses short bursts of precision propulsion to direct the missile toward incoming targets.

Raytheon is building the next-generation Standard Missile-3 Block IIA in cooperation with Japan for deployment on land and at sea. It has two distinct new features: larger rocket motors that will enable it to defend broader areas from ballistic missile threats and a larger kinetic warhead than previous versions.

On this contract Raytheon will do the work in Tucson, Ariz.; and Huntsville, Ala., and should be finished by December 2026. For more information contact Raytheon Missile Systems online at www.raytheonmissilesanddefense.com, or the Missile Defense Agency at www.mda.mil.

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