Six Reasons Why All Eyes Are on Standard Missile-6

Raytheon recently delivered the first full-rate production round of the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) to the U.S. Navy after a flawless series of flight tests in 2014. The move to full-rate production is a key milestone that demonstrates the program’s maturity. Here are six things you should know about this new air and missile defense interceptor.

1. U.S. Navy wants to immediately deploy lots of them

The most recent delivery of SM-6 to the U.S. Navy is the first of many. Commanders around the globe want as many of these missiles as they can get their hands on, and the Navy plans to purchase 1,800.


The Standard Missile-6 is built in a state-of-the-art Raytheon facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

2. SM-6 is a jack of all trades

The SM-6 provides fleet air defense against pretty much every threat: fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and anti-ship cruise missiles in flight, both over sea and land.


The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 during a live-fire test of the ship's Aegis weapons system. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

3. It’s going ballistic

Later this year, the SM-6 will begin testing against incoming ballistic missiles, adding another layer of protection to the defensive umbrella provided by the SM-6’s cousin, the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3).

Sea-based testing of a Standard Missile-6

4. It stole a page from the fighter pilot’s playbook

The SM-6’s eyes and brains are the same as the Raytheon-made Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), the most advanced air-to-air weapon in the arsenal of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and numerous allied nations. SM-6 embeds the AMRAAM’s battle tested and highly reliable seeker into the tried-and-true Standard Missile airframe. Like AMRAAM, the SM-6 can receive in-flight target updates. 


An F-35A Lightning II fired an AMRAAM missile off the California coast during an Oct. 30, 2014 test. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

5. Ships can use SM-6 to take out threats blindfolded

With SM-6, the U.S. Navy quadruples the amount of defended space it can protect because sailors are able to launch at threats much sooner than ever before. U.S. Navy ships no longer have to “see” the threat with their own radars in order to destroy it.  Instead, they can rely on support from other sources, such as another ship in a better position or an airborne sensor like the JLENS.


One JLENS orbit can provide the same 24/7 coverage for a 30-day period that five fixed-wing surveillance aircraft provide.

6. SM-6 is a modern marvel with historic roots

SM-6 is the product of decades of experience. The need for this type of defender was first identified in the years after World War II . Standard Missile technology has been perfected for more than 60 years and remains critical to the U.S. integrated air and missile defense system.

The 60-year history of Raytheon's Standard Missile family