The U.S. Navy is investing in advanced, multi-use missiles to give the service an edge in future surface warfare.
In the coming months, the Navy is also planning to test the SM-3 Missile Block IIA, the service's exo-atmospheric intercepting ballistic missile, Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of Surface Warfare Division, N96, OPNAV, told an audience Tuesday at the Surface Navy Association's 29th National Symposium.
The increased range of the missile will provide surface ship crews with a larger area in which to maneuver, Boxall said.
"It's going to give you the maneuvering space," he said. "We weren't able to move you around like we'd like to; we had to put you in a space and keep you there. Now we are talking about moving you across a much larger area.
"It's an incredibly important missile; we are really looking forward to that test," Boxall said.
The SM-3 Block IIA's larger rocket motors and advanced kill vehicle will allow it to take out threats even earlier and protect larger regions from short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats, according to Raytheon Company, maker of the missile.
If all goes well, the Navy is planning to deploy the SM-3 block IIAs in Poland and Romania, Boxall said.
The Navy also has high hopes for the Maritime Strike Tomahawk missile.
"Instead of having that long missile only used for land attack, we are looking at putting a seeker in that and make it to be used against surface ships," Boxall said. "We have already tested this; we know the concept works. We've got some work to do, but are going to put that capability out I think before FY 2021."
And the Navy just completed a successful test of a Standard Missile 6, or SM-6, last month against a "very complex medium-range ballistic missile target," Boxall said.
Traditionally, the SM-6 is used in Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air operations, providing the service with extended, over-land and over-water engagement ranges, as well as extending the over-the-radar horizon of the firing surface ship.
The test showed that the SM-6 "has the capability to do sea-based terminal defense," Boxall said.
"This is good news because we now have one missile that can do more than one thing," he said. "I can save some missile space in all those holds I have on destroyers and cruisers out there; that is a good thing for me."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.