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DECEMBER 2020

Raytheon’s SM-3 Intercepts Ballistic Missile Target Outside Of Earth’s Atmosphere For First Time Ever

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Raytheon's SM-3 Intercepts Ballistic Missile Target Outside Of Earth's Atmosphere For First Time Ever

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For the first time in world history, an intercontinental ballistic missile target was intercepted outside of the Earth’s atmosphere via Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IIA ballistic missile defense interceptor.

“This first-of-its-kind test shows that our nation has a viable option for a new layer of defense against long-range threats,” said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

The SM-3 family of ballistic missile defense interceptors has executed more exo-atmospheric intercepts than all other missiles combined and is the only weapon of its kind employed from both ships and land. The number sits at 30.

Raytheon's SM-3 Intercepts Ballistic Missile Target Outside Of Earth's Atmosphere For First Time Ever

Click to see full-size image

The interceptor uses sheer force, rather than an explosive warhead, to destroy its target. Its “kill vehicle” hits threats with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 mph.

This technique, referred to as “hit-to-kill,” has been likened to intercepting a bullet with another bullet

Raytheon's SM-3 Intercepts Ballistic Missile Target Outside Of Earth's Atmosphere For First Time Ever

Click to see full-size image

In December 2019, the MDA awarded Raytheon a $1 billion SM-3 Block IIA contract. Earlier that year, the U.S. State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of up to 73 SM-3 Block IIA missiles for an estimated cost of $3.295 billion. In Japan, the missile will equip the AEGIS Ashore and new Maya-class destroyers.

Raytheon Intelligence & Space sensors were also part of the historic test from low-earth orbit. The sensors detected and tracked the target and relayed the data to decision makers in a demonstration of space-based early warning.

The video below shows an intercept being carried out, inside the atmosphere back in 2018.

This one is being launched from a ship, while the one below is being launched from land.

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