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The first successful guided flight test of Raytheon’s ESSM Block 2 intermediate-range, surface-to-air missile has been completed by the U.S. Navy. The Block 2 variant was fired from the Navy’s self-defense test ship and scored a direct hit on an aerial target off the coast of southern California.
The ESSM Block 2 missile will feature a new guidance system with a dual-mode active and semi-active radar. Raytheon said Block 2’s improved guidance increases the ESSM’s capabilities and allows navies to remain ahead of complex threats.
ESSM is the primary ship self-defense missile aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious assault ships and is an integral component of the Navy’s layered area and ship self-defense capability for cruisers and destroyers. It’s also the foundation of several allied navies’ anti-ship missile defense efforts. ESSM is operational on almost 200 naval platforms worldwide.
The Block 2 variant is on track to enter production and achieve initial operating capability in 2020. With more than 2,500 missiles planned for production, this variant represents the future of the NATO SeaSparrow program, according to businessinsider.com.
The ESSM program is a cooperative effort managed by a NATO-led consortium comprising 12 nations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
The NATO SeaSparrow program is marking its 50th anniversary this year and is the largest international cooperative weapon development, production, and in-service support program in NATO.