The SM-6 Missile, that is.
The Navy recently destroyed a ballistic missile target with an SM-6 missile during a test off the coast of Scotland, verifying that the high-tech weapon does have an ability to track and destroy incoming enemy medium and long-range ballistic missiles.
While the Navy did not specifically say the test was aimed at preparing for a North Korean conventional ballistic missile attack on South Korea, the successful intercept did further validate the kind of technology likely to be used to defend South Korea or Japan in that kind of scenario.
“The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS McFaul successfully test fired a Standard Missile-6. That flight test, designated Standard Missile Controlled Test Vehicle (SM CTV)-03, demonstrated the successful performance of an SM-6 launched from an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capable DDG (destroyer) and was conducted as part of the system’s flight certification process,” a statement from the Missile Defense Agency said
Given the current tensions with North Korea, many observers and military planners have made the point that any kind of US-led military strike upon North Korea would likely be followed by a massive launch of conventional ballistic missiles by North Korea against South Korea and Japan. As a result, it would by no means surprise anyone to see the US sharpen, test, refine and deploy various missile defense technologies; these include land-based systems such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon and, as tested, an SM-6 fired from a ship at sea.
At the same time, many have questioned whether even the most advanced ballistic missile defenses would be able to track and destroy an incoming barrage of multiple ballistic missiles.
The Navy has been preparing an emerging Standard Missile 6 missile variant for combat by test-firing the weapon engineered with upgraded software – enabling it to perform a range of functions to include air-warfare, ballistic missile terminal defense and anti-surface warfare capabilities, service officials said.
The Navy successfully executed four flight tests of the surface-to-air Standard Missile-6 Block I (SM-6 Blk I) off the Hawaiian coast earlier
Navy and MDA tests have also simultaneously fired two Standard Missile-6 weapons in rapid succession at a single ballistic missile target to assess performance against medium-range ballistic missile threats in the final stage of flight.