|SM2s to down incoming missiles. Very cool.
By Nick Brown
US sea-based ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities demonstrated a new engagement aspect on 24 May 2006, when a Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) Block IV successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target in its terminal descent (endo-atmospheric) phase.
The US Navy (USN) has now made seven ballistic missile intercepts from eight firings, but until this point all of the engagements had occurred with the BMD-dedicated SM-3 in the exo-atmospheric ballistic phases.
Nick Bucci, Lockheed Martin's chief engineer for Sea-based Missile Defence, told Jane's that both types of engagement have stressing moments, but the main difference with a terminal phase engagement is the timeline involved. Otherwise the Aegis engagement path follows the same detect, track, engage and control sequence.
There are currently no more trials scheduled for the SM-2 terminal BMD capability in the short term and this demonstration was primarily to prove that the concept was technically possible.
The USN has large stocks of existing SM-2 missiles that it could upgrade with the modified seeker, and Jim Sheridan, Lockheed Martin's director of Aegis Development, told Jane's that rolling out the Aegis terminal phase upgrade across the 15 destroyers and three cruisers of the BMD fleet is an option.