The U.S. Navy completed the first successful guided flight test of Raytheon’s ESSM Block 2 intermediate-range, surface-to-air missile.
The Block 2 variant was fired from the Navy’s self-defense test ship and scored a direct hit on an aerial target off the coast of southern California.
The ESSM Block 2 missile will feature a new guidance system with a dual mode active and semi-active radar. The latest flight evaluation follows two successful test firings last year.
“This guided test takes the ESSM into a new era,” said Todd Callahan, Raytheon Naval and Area Mission Defense vice president. “Block 2’s improved guidance increases the ESSM’s capabilities and allows navies to remain ahead of complex threats.”
The Block 2 variant is on track to enter production and achieve initial operating capability in 2020. With more than 2,500 missiles planned for production, this variant represents the future of the NATO SeaSparrow program.
ESSM is the primary ship self-defense missile aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious assault ships and is an integral component of the Navy’s layered area and ship self-defense capability for cruisers and destroyers. It’s also the foundation of several allied navies’ anti-ship missile defense efforts.
The ESSM program is a cooperative effort managed by a NATO-led consortium comprising 12 nations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United States. The NATO SeaSparrow program is marking its 50th anniversary this year and is the largest international cooperative weapon development, production, and in-service support program in NATO.
ESSM is operational on almost 200 naval platforms worldwide.