RTX lands $344M deal for cutting-edge missile electronics upgrade

A hefty contract of $344 million has been awarded to Raytheon, charging them with the creation of two missile variants – the SM-2 Block IIICU and SM-6 Block IU. These missiles will be designed around a common guidance section, where the essential software and electronics reside to direct the missile to its target. 

RTX lands $344M deal for cutting-edge missile electronics upgrade
Photo credit: RTX

With the introduction of an innovative guidance section, target detection device, independent flight termination system, and electronics unit, the revamped variants will share common elements. The uniformity of these features will enable Raytheon to produce both missiles on the same production line, thereby ensuring flexibility, scalability, and a reduction in manufacturing costs. 

Kim Ernzen, the President of Naval Power for Raytheon, stated that the advancements in this contract will enable the armaments company, RTX, to enhance the speed and efficiency of production for these critical defense systems, designed to safeguard the U.S. Navy and its allies. “This is a significant stride for our international customers as well,” Ernzen went on to add, “given that this is the very first instance where the Standard Missile’s active radar technology will be employed by allies of the U.S.”

Australia, Canada, Japan, and Korea

The developmental program greatly benefits from Foreign Military Sales funding. The first countries to deploy these upgraded missiles include the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, and Korea. This work is being carried out in Tucson, Arizona. 

Although this award covers the development of common sub-sections for both missile configurations, another contract is expected later in the year. This subsequent contract will wrap up the missile-level qualification events and include the At-Sea flight tests that are peculiar to the SM-2 Block IIICU configuration.

About SM-2 Block IIICU

USS Carl M Levin used Aegis (FTM-48) to engage multiple targets
Photo credit: Seaforces.org

The SM-2 Block IIICU and SM-6 Block IU are both advanced missile systems developed by the United States. They are designed for use in naval warfare, specifically for anti-aircraft and anti-missile operations. However, they have distinct characteristics and capabilities that set them apart. 

The SM-2 Block IIICU, or Standard Missile 2, is a surface-to-air missile system. It is an integral part of the Aegis Combat System, which is used on many U.S. Navy warships. The missile is designed to provide medium- to long-range defense. The missile targets are aircraft, anti-ship missiles, and ballistic missiles in their terminal phase. It utilizes semi-active radar homing. Thus the missile to track its targets. This mean it relies on a radar signal provided by an external source, typically the launching ship.

About SM-6 Block IU

US to expand Aegis Guam performance against missile attacks
Photo credit: US Navy

On the other hand, the SM-6 Block IU, or Standard Missile 6, represents a newer, more advanced missile system. It also integrates into the Aegis Combat System, but it offers a broader range of capabilities. Besides its surface-to-air role, it can also execute anti-ship operations and even conduct some limited ballistic missile defense missions. The SM-6 employs active radar homing, enabling it to track targets independently with its onboard radar, granting it a degree of fire-and-forget capability. 

The primary difference between the SM-2 Block IIICU and the SM-6 Block IU is their guidance systems and the range of missions they can perform. The SM-2 relies on semi-active radar homing and is primarily designed for air defense. The SM-6, with its active radar homing, can engage a wider variety of targets, including enemy ships and ballistic missiles, and can operate more independently.

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