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US Military's 'Groundbreaking' New Missile Reaches Milestone

1 week ago 28

The U.S. Navy conducted a successful test of a cutting-edge missile system last week, intercepting a ballistic missile target over the ocean in "a groundbreaking advancement for naval defense," according to the military news outlet Special Operations Forces Report (SOFREP).

SOFREP on Wednesday reported that the SM-6 missile, manufactured by the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon, achieved a "significant milestone" on March 29 when it "successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target during a sea trial."

Though SM-6s have been in U.S. military service for over a decade, the missile recently underwent a software upgrade that Raytheon touts as a major enhancement for the weapon's capabilities.

The SM-6 has previously been tested half a dozen times against ballistic missile targets, but the latest launch utilized what Raytheon dubbed the Dual II (Block IA) configuration. The new SM-6 used in the trial also featured tweaks to its aerodynamics and a bigger motor to increase its range.

Following the test, Raytheon confirmed the updated SM-6 intercepted the ballistic missile target in its terminal phase of flight, which SOFREP wrote is "the most challenging portion of the trajectory to engage."

U.S. military performs an exercise in Hawaii
In this image handed out by the U.S. Navy, a threat representative target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on November 6, 2007 in Kauai, Hawaii. A recent test by a Raytheon... Photo by U.S. Navy via Getty Images

The SM-6 was already considered an advanced weapon, often called "three missiles in one" due to its ability to strike anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare and ballistic missile defenses.

As SOFREP explained, SM-6s deployed on U.S. naval ships can extend "crucial offensive and defensive capabilities over the horizon, meaning it can engage hostile aircraft, ships and ballistic missiles at significant distances."

Raytheon says that since SM-6s can support all three capabilities in one package, it's a cost-effective defensive weapon for the Pentagon's arsenal.

The March 29 test saw an SM-6 launched from the U.S. Navy's U.S.S. Preble, a destroyer that's located at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii.

"This test demonstrated that the latest versions of the SM-6 and combat system provide the critical capability to destroy an incoming sophisticated missile threat," Kim Ernzen, president of Raytheon Naval Power, said in a statement.

"Raytheon is committed to ensuring our technology stays ahead of evolving threats and is available to sailors as quickly as possible."

In its assessment, SOFREP wrote that the test "signifies a vital step forward in ensuring the US Navy and its allies possess the necessary firepower to counter modern ballistic missile threats."

"The ongoing development and successful testing of the SM-6 solidify its position as a cornerstone of modern naval defense," the outlet added.

The test comes amid a growing number of threats to U.S. forces overseas, both in the Middle East and the Eastern Pacific, where North Korea has been launching a series of ballistic missile tests, including one this week that could theoretically reach Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific that's home to a major military installation.

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