THE NATIONAL INTEREST — The Missile Defense Agency and Raytheon are testing and developing a new SM-3 missile variant better able to detect and destroy ballistic missile threats approaching the earth’s atmosphere from space.
The new missile, called the SM-3IIA, is slated to fire from a land-based missile defense site planned by the Pentagon for Poland by 2018, Missile Defense Agency officials told Scout Warrior in a statement.
SM-3 missiles, first deployed on Navy ships, are exo-atmospheric interceptor missiles designed to destroy short and intermediate range incoming enemy ballistic missiles in above the earth’s atmosphere. With the weapon, threats are destroyed in space during what’s described as the mid-course phase of flight.
The planned Poland deployment is a key part of what the Pentagon calls the Aegis Ashore program, an effort to leverage the ship-based Aegis Radar for land-fired missile defense technology. As of last year, Aegis Ashore locations are already operational in Romania as part of the Obama administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach program.
The concept with the program is to engineer a land-based missile defense envelope, by using already successful and operational Aegis Radar and SM-3 technology, to better protect the European continent from potential ballistic missile threats.