Navy asks Raytheon to build ESSM radar-guided missiles for ship defense against incoming planes and weapons

Nov. 30, 2022
ESSM is a medium-range, semi-active homing missile that makes flight corrections via radar and midcourse data uplinks to provide ship self-defense.

WASHINGTON – Missile experts at Raytheon Technologies Corp. will build next-generation shipboard missiles able to defeat a wide variety of aircraft and missile threats with active radar guidance that can operate independently of the launch ship under terms of a $397.7 million order announced Monday.

Officials of the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington are asking the Raytheon Missiles & Defense segment in Tucson, Ariz., for RIM-162 Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 assemblies, shipping containers, and spare parts. This order exercises options on a six-year contract the Navy awarded to Raytheon in September 2021 potentially worth $1.3 billion.

The radar-guided ESSM program is an international cooperative effort to design, develop, test, and procure ESSM missiles for enhanced ship defense. The ESSM Block 2 first was deployed with the Navy and allied navies last year. It is a ship self-defense missile with a dual-mode X-band radar seeker than can engage enemy planes and missiles at ranges beyond 25 miles. RIM stands for radar intercept missile.

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Compared with its ESSM Block 1 predecessor, the ESSM Block 2 has increased maneuverability and other enhancements that enable the missile to defeat future threats to U.S. and allied navies operating in hostile environments, Raytheon officials say. The ESSM Block 2’s active seeker will support terminal engagement without the launch ship’s target illumination radars.

In addition to the U.S. Navy, the governments of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey will operate ESSM Block 2 anti-air missile.

The ship defense ESSM is a medium-range, semi-active homing missile that makes flight corrections via radar and midcourse data uplinks. The missile provides reliable ship self-defense capability against agile, high-speed, low-altitude anti-ship cruise missiles, low velocity air threats like helicopters, and high-speed, maneuverable surface threats.

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The missile is 12 feet long and has 10-inch-diameter control and rocket motor sections that tapper to an 8-inch-diameter guidance section with a radome-protected antenna for semi-active homing and a warhead. It has a high-thrust, solid-propellant rocket motor and tail control via a thrust vector controller.

The first production ESSM Block 1 was delivered in late 2002 and has been in full operational use in the U.S. since 2004.

On this order Raytheon will do the work in Tucson, Ariz.; Edinburgh, Australia; San Jose, Westlake Village, and Torrance, Calif.; Raufoss, Norway; Mississauga and Cambridge, Ontario; Ottobrunn, Germany; Nashua, N.H.; Hengelo, Netherlands; Koropi Attica, Greece; Canton, N.Y.; Ankara Turkey; Grenaa, Denmark, and should be finished by March 2027.

For more information contact Raytheon Missiles & Defense online at, or Naval Sea Systems Command at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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