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Fri Feb 12, 2021, 11:51 PM

Obscure 23 year Old Navy SAM Was So Ahead of Its Time...

Obscure 23-Year Old Navy SAM Was So Ahead Of Its Time That It's Still In High Demand Today
The SM-2 Block IIIB's dual-mode guidance system is still unique among the missiles the Navy's fleet uses to defend against aerial threats.

...To detail how these missiles work, the SM-2MR leverages data-link networking and inertial navigation to get itself out in an area where it can make its terminal attack run on the target, which can be dozens of miles. The Aegis SPY-1 radar data is sent to the missile—this information can now also come from a third-party asset, such as an E-2 Hawkeye flying overhead—as it flies out toward the target. Prior to its final run on the target, the ship illuminates the target, at which time the missile's semi-active radar seeker would lock onto the reflected radar energy. In the case of the Block IIIB, the infrared sensor would also lock onto the target, making it extremely hard for the target to survive the missile's attack. If the target cannot be illuminated, the infrared seeker can still prosecute the target on its own. In the end, the dual-mode seeker setup doesn't just make certain engagements possible, it offers a better probability of kill overall. ...

...It's also worth noting that the SM-2 Block IIIBs represent a lower-cost-per-engagement option compared to the Block IIIC, despite the dual-mode guidance. They're certainly cheaper than SM-6s, though those missiles are much more capable and are intended for a wider array of targets. The Navy bought its last Block IIIBs in the 2011 Fiscal Year, at which time the unit cost for each missile was approximately $1.138 million, or around $1.316 million in 2020 dollars. In its Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request, the Navy said it expected to pay $2.349 million for each conversion kit to turn existing older Block III SM-2s into Block IIICs. The stated unit price of the SM-6 in those same documents was just over $4.318 million.

Much more in The Drive:


An interesting history and discussion of the US Navy surface to air missile program and the characteristics of the SM-2 series in comparison to others.

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