Home Americas Software-upgraded SM-6 missile intercepts medium range ballistic missile in latest MDA test

Software-upgraded SM-6 missile intercepts medium range ballistic missile in latest MDA test

USS Daniel Inouye Aegis 9.2 SM-6 missile launch
USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) launching an SM-6 Dual II missile from the Pacific Missile Range Facility to intercept the MRBM on March 30, 2023. Photo: US Navy

The US Missile Defense Agency, in partnership with the US Navy, has accomplished a successful interception of a ballistic missile target during the Flight Test Aegis Weapon System 31 Event 1a (FTM-31 E1a).

The test on March 30 showcased the potential of an Aegis vessel configured with ballistic missile defense (BMD) technology to detect, track, engage, and intercept a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target in its terminal phase using the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Dual II with Software Upgrade (SWUP), firing two interceptors in a single salvo.

The USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) launched two SM-6 Dual II missiles from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, and successfully intercepted the MRBM in the terminal phase of flight.

This marks the third successful test of an Aegis BMD-equipped ship using the SM-6 Dual II missile and the first Aegis Baseline 9.C2.0 (BMD 5.1) intercept of an MRBM target using the SM-6 Dual II SWUP missile during FTM-31 E1a.

The modifications implemented following the May 2021 FTM-31 E1, which did not fully meet its objectives, were incorporated into FTM-31 E1a. MDA added that the successful completion of the test demonstrated that the enhanced SM-6 Dual II SWUP capability is now suitable for deployment to protect and safeguard allies and deployed forces worldwide.

The versatile SM-6 missile provides over-the-horizon, air defense capabilities and can execute anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense, and anti-surface warfare missions. The SM–6 Dual II SWUP missile, designed to intercept short-to-medium range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of flight, proved successful in this test.

“This successful test represents a significant achievement and a crucial milestone for the sea-based defense program,” commented Vice Admiral Jon Hill, Director of MDA. “The operationally realistic scenario demonstrated our capabilities, which is essential in staying ahead of emerging threats. Congratulations to the entire test team, including our sailors and industry partners, who played a vital role in achieving this milestone.”

The Sea Based Terminal (SBT) program, utilizing the Aegis Baseline 9 weapon system and SM-6 missile, is integral to MDA’s mission to deliver a capability to defend high-value assets at sea and on land against advanced threats in the terminal phase of flight. SBT is an evolving capability for regional hypersonic and ballistic defense.