For the first time in world history, an intercontinental ballistic missile target was intercepted outside of the Earth’s atmosphere via Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IIA ballistic missile defense interceptor.
“This first-of-its-kind test shows that our nation has a viable option for a new layer of defense against long-range threats,” said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
BREAKING ?: “This first-of-its kind test shows the effectiveness of the SM-3 IIA against long-range threats.”
— Raytheon Missiles & Defense (@RaytheonDefense) November 17, 2020
The SM-3 family of ballistic missile defense interceptors has executed more exo-atmospheric intercepts than all other missiles combined and is the only weapon of its kind employed from both ships and land. The number sits at 30.
The interceptor uses sheer force, rather than an explosive warhead, to destroy its target. Its “kill vehicle” hits threats with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 mph.
This technique, referred to as “hit-to-kill,” has been likened to intercepting a bullet with another bullet
In December 2019, the MDA awarded Raytheon a $1 billion SM-3 Block IIA contract. Earlier that year, the U.S. State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of up to 73 SM-3 Block IIA missiles for an estimated cost of $3.295 billion. In Japan, the missile will equip the AEGIS Ashore and new Maya-class destroyers.
Raytheon Intelligence & Space sensors were also part of the historic test from low-earth orbit. The sensors detected and tracked the target and relayed the data to decision makers in a demonstration of space-based early warning.
The video below shows an intercept being carried out, inside the atmosphere back in 2018.
This one is being launched from a ship, while the one below is being launched from land.
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