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An American missile manufacturer recently signed a deal potentially worth over a half-billion dollars with the U.S. Navy, with the intention of supplying shipboard air-defense missiles. Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington announced a $395.5 million order, to build additional Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) systems. The order, which was made from Raytheon Co., has options that could increase its value to $579.7 million.

The SM-6, also called the RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM), is deployed on Navy cruisers and destroyers to provide air defense against enemy fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), land-attack anti-ship cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles in their terminal phases over sea and land, according to Raytheon officials.

The SM-6 is a key component in the U.S. Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA), which helps provide Navy shipboard forces with over-the-horizon air-defense capabilities. It also can destroy nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in their terminal phases.

Navy crews can use the missile’s active radar seeker to guide the missile to its target. Other options are using semi-active radar homing all the way; or an over-the-horizon shot with Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), which blends radar from several different ships.

The SM-6 can intercept incoming ballistic missiles at very-high-altitudes.

It can also intercept in low-altitude mode against low fliers like sea-skimming anti-ship missiles.

Against ballistic missiles it can discriminate targets using its dual-mode seeker, with the semi-active seeker relying on a ship-based illuminator to highlight the target, and the active seeker having the missile itself send out an electromagnetic signal.

The missile’s active seeker can detect a land-based cruise missile even amid ground clutter, for example from behind a mountain. The U.S. Navy is adding the Global Positioning System (GPS) to the SM-6 so it can strike stationary land targets if needed. The missile also is being modified as an anti-ship weapon, according to militaryaerospace.com.