Raytheon’s Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) has been cleared by the Pentagon for international sales and Australia is likely to be one of the first customers.
SM-6, which has been earmarked for the RAN's Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) soon to be in service, is currently in limited initial production. It is a key weapon in the both the US Navy’s emerging distributed lethality concept and the service’s Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter-Air (NIFC-CA) for its ability to strike air, surface and limited ballistic missile targets.
“It is unclear at this stage if the three potential buyers will be permitted to use all three modes of the missile.”
Of the five international Aegis combat system operators, three are in the process to have the upgraded combat system to field the SM-6 – Australia, Japan and South Korea.
The AWDs will be equipped with Aegis Baseline 9 which will incorporate modifications from earlier versions allowing targeting information from a third party to interdict air and sea warfare threats using the SM-6.
It is unclear at this stage if the three potential buyers will be permitted to use all three modes of the missile – anti-air warfare, anti-surface and a limited ballistic missile defense capability.
“While the missiles will all have the inherent capability for all three missions, the US Government will determine which of those features will be activated for international sales,” Raytheon's Thad Smith said.