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Missile Defense Overview

Why missile defense?

Ballistic missiles have become a serious threat to international security.

Missiles are fast, traveling up to 15,000 mph. They can cover long distances, with the most advanced missiles reaching into space and traveling over the North Pole to hit targets. Because they are expensive and can carry only small payloads, rogue countries are more likely to outfit them with weapons of mass destruction.

Countries must be able to detect a missile launch, track an incoming missile or warhead, and then intercept it.

The United States and its allies have developed several overlapping systems to stop missile attacks. Raytheon plays a major role in almost every one of them.

We are, quite simply, the most trusted global partner in missile defense.

Tracking and Discrimination

Raytheon's powerful AN/TPY-2 radar can discriminate between threats and other objects.
Raytheon's powerful AN/TPY-2 radar can discriminate between threats and other objects.

Stopping a missile attack begins with detecting a launch.

Working together, Raytheon systems provide detailed information about a missile’s type, trajectory and possible target. They can also differentiate between a warhead and other objects. They include:


The Standard Missile-3 can intercept missiles while they are still in space.

The Standard Missile-3 can intercept missiles while they are still in space.

The United States and its allies use overlapping layers of long-range, mid-range and short-range interceptors to shoot down missiles and incoming warheads at a variety of altitudes

  • Aegis: This system is carried on warships and as a land-based version in Europe. It fires the Raytheon-built Standard Missile family of interceptors, including:
    • Standard Missile-3, which releases a small, non-explosive “kill vehicle” that smashes into warheads in space. Raytheon is also developing advanced versions of the SM-3, known as the IB and IIA variants. The IIA is a joint project with Japan.
    • Standard Missile-6, a multi-mission missile with an active seeker. It can defend against cruise missiles, along with ballistic missiles in the last phase of their flight.
  • Ground-based Midcourse Defense: This system uses large, powerful Ground-Based Interceptor missiles launched from underground silos in Alaska and California. The interceptors carry Raytheon’s Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, which uses sensors and small thrusters to slam itself into warheads. GBIs can reach targets at the highest point in their arc, known as the mid-course phase of flight.
  • Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD): This land-based system is designed to shoot down threats as they descend from outer space into the upper atmosphere. The system includes the Raytheon-built AN/TPY-2 radar, which detects attacks and guides interceptors to their targets.
  • Patriot: This medium-range system is used by 13 countries. A proposed radar upgrade adds a 360-degree view powered by gallium nitride technology. Patriot’s interceptors include the:
    • Guided Enhanced Missile (GEM-T), which carries an explosive charge.
    • Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile, which destroys threats by slamming into them. A new version of the PAC-3 missile, known as the Missile Segment Enhancement, adds a more powerful motor and larger fins.
  • National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System: NASAMS can fire three different Raytheon missiles: the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, the AMRAAM and the AIM-9X.
  • Iron Dome:This system uses small missiles to provide protection against rockets, artillery and mortars. Raytheon has signed an agreement with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to market the system in the United States.

This document does not contain technology or technical data controlled under either the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations or the U.S. Export Administration Regulations. E16-23KP