PARIS AIR SHOW NEWS: Work Underway to Repurpose Sea-Based Missile Defense System
PARIS — The Standard Missile-6 could once again be repurposed for new applications, an industry executive said June 19.
The SM-6 was originally designed to defend ships from air-and-missile attacks. A few years ago the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office sponsored an initiative that gave it an offensive anti-ship strike capability. Now, Raytheon is taking steps to enable it to be deployed as a land-based system.
“We are looking at that land-based capability to put that layered-defense launching construct there,” company Vice President for Strategic and Naval Systems Mitch Stevison told National Defense at the Paris Air Show. “We are having conversations with customers all the time about it. They're very interested, so we're investing.”
Raytheon is not currently under contract with the Pentagon to retool the system, he said. The company has spent its own money to develop a prototype ground-based launcher in anticipation of customer demand.
“We've had a lot of conversations with many of the combatant commanders and others to say, ‘Look, here's a capability that we believe we can rapidly bring to you if you need it and desire it.’ And there's interest,” Stevison noted.
Stevison believes the project is technologically feasible, noting that the SM-6 uses the exact same boost system and dual-thrust rocket motor as the Standard Missile-3 — another interceptor that was originally designed for the U.S. Navy but has since been deployed on land at Aegis Ashore sites in Europe for regional ballistic missile defense.
“What we're looking to do [with the SM-6] is very similar,” he said. “Now it's just a different mission set.”
The next step is to show the Pentagon that the concept is viable with the launcher the company has been developing.
“Instead of just saying, ‘Here's some PowerPoint, we can do this,’ we're trying to demonstrate with hardware that we have the capability to do this,” Stevison added. “It's not a leap of technology that we're trying to put together because we've already done similar things.”
A technology demonstration for the military has not been scheduled yet, he said.
Stevison touted the SM-6’s multi-mission capabilities.
“If you're a Navy skipper out there with an Aegis destroyer … you've got a limited number of vertical-launch system silos,” he noted. “What do you want in there? Do you want something that can only be used for one thing or do you want something that can be used for multiple things? It creates so much more flexibility for them.”
Raytheon hopes the multi-mission capabilities will be attractive to the Army. The company has painted SM-6s green at trade shows to market them to the service, Stevison noted.
In addition to providing air-and-missile defense, a ground-based SM-6 could potentially offer a land attack capability, he said.
“Certainly within the construct of what you've seen in the anti-ship demonstration that we did a couple of years ago, the offensive capability resides to do that,” Stevison said. “It's different shooting over land, so I won't try to extrapolate what we did over sea with respect to over land, but that could be a capability that our customer would be looking for over time.”
While the technology appears promising, Raytheon will have to wait and see if the Pentagon has a requirement for a ground-based SM-6 system, he noted.
“We're going to do a demonstration, there will be a little bit more discussion and debate within the warfighting community about this … and then we'll see if we win out,” he said. “If we do, then we have the capability we believe we can deliver successfully.”