The US State Department has approved the sale to Japan of 32 SM-6 missiles and other associated equipments. The SM-6 is known as the only american missile capable of intercepting and destroying incoming hypersonic warheads. The approximate cost of this potential deal is $450 million USD. This deal will enhance the air defence and ballistic missile capabilities of Japan’s military forces to safeguard their homeland from potential threats. The SM-6 has the maximum speed of Mach 3.5 with the range of 130 nautical miles (240 km). The missile has a very high flight ceiling of above 110,000 ft (34,000 m).
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on October 20 that the United States State Department has approved a potential contract worth $450 million USD to supply 32 Standard Missile-6 air defense systems (Block 1) to Japan.
The contract also includes missile storage canisters, technical equipments and training support for Japan.
“The sale will improve Japan’s Air Defense and Ballistic missile defence capabilities against potential adversaries in the region. It also provides the US-Japan security alliance with new and the most modern weapons.”
This deal will also help in reducing japan dependence on US Forces for defense activities.
The deal has been notified to the US Congress, which will have 30 days to decide whether to block the contract or not. If there is no objection from the Congress, the deal will be submitted for final approval in the office of the US President Joe Biden.
This supply of SM-6 missiles to Japan will also help Japan to deal with the emerging threats posed by the chinese hypersonic missiles and North Korean ballistic missiles.
This will make Japan the first country other than the United States to deploy the SM-6. The US since 2017 has also licensed South Korea and Australia to own the SM-6, but their has been no actual action.
The United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia have warships equipped with the Aegis Baseline 9 combat system.
This allows the warship to import and process target data from allied forces into the SM-6, improving detection and interception capabilities.
SM-6 is the latest anti-aircraft missile equipped with the US Aegis Defense Shield.
This type of missile is also the only us weapon currently capable of intercepting hypersonic missiles, according to pentagon officials.
US officials has not said anything about which version of the SM-6 is capable of defeating hypersonic missiles.
Detailed information about the RIM-174 (SM-6) Standard Extended Range Active Missile
The RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM), or Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) is a missile in current production for the United States Navy.
It was designed for extended range anti-air warfare (ER-AAW) purposes providing capability against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, anti-ship cruise missiles in flight, both over sea and land, and terminal ballistic missile defense. It can also be used as a high speed anti-ship missile.
The missile uses the airframe of the earlier SM-2ER Block IV (RIM-156A) missile, adding the active radar homing seeker from the AIM-120C AMRAAM in place of the semi-active seeker of the previous design. This will improve the capability of the Standard missile against highly agile targets, and targets beyond the effective range of the launching vessels’ target illumination radars.
Initial operating capability was planned for 2013 and was achieved on 27 November 2013. The SM-6 is not meant to replace the SM-2 series of missiles, but will serve alongside and provide extended range and increased firepower.
It was approved for export in January 2017.
The Standard ERAM is a two-stage missile with a booster stage and a second stage. It is similar in appearance to the RIM-156A Standard missile.
The radar seeker is an enlarged version adapted from the AIM-120C AMRAAM seeker (13.5 in (34 cm) versus 7 in (18 cm)).
The missile may be employed in a number of modes: inertial guided to target with terminal acquisition using active radar seeker, semi-active radar homing all the way, or an over the horizon shot with Cooperative Engagement Capability.
The missile is also capable of terminal ballistic missile defense as a supplement to the Standard Missile 3 (RIM-161).
Unlike other missiles of the Standard family, the Standard ERAM can be periodically tested and certified without removal from the vertical launching system.
The SM-6 offers extended range over previous SM-2 series missiles, primarily being able to intercept very high altitude or sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, and is also capable of performing terminal phase ballistic missile defense.
The SM-6 can also function as a high speed anti-ship missile. 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 active seeker has the ability to detect a land-based cruise missile amid ground features, even from behind a mountain.
The multi-mission SM-6 is engineered with the aerodynamics of an SM-2, the propulsion booster stack of the SM-3, and the front end configuration of the AMRAAM.
Estimates of the SM-6’s range vary; its official published range is 130 nmi (150 mi; 240 km), but it could be anywhere from 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) to as much as 250 nmi (290 mi; 460 km).
The U.S. Navy is adding GPS guidance to the SM-6 Block IA so that it has the capability to strike surface targets if needed, but given its higher cost than other land attack weapons like the Tomahawk cruise missile, it would not likely be used as a primary option.
In February 2016, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter confirmed that the SM-6 would be modified to act as an anti-ship weapon.
Technical Specifications of the RIM-174 ERAM (SM-6) Missile
The SM-6 is known for its multiple uses according to the battlefield situation, it can be used as a surface-to-air defence missile in its primary role, it can be used as an anti-ballistic missile in its terminal phase, plus the SM-6 can also be used as a anti-ship missile in its secondary role.
The Missile entered into active service with the United States Navy in 2013, the missile is produced by Raytheon Technologies Corporation.
Raytheon has produced approximately 500 units of SM-6 since 2009, when its production started. More than 1,800 units of SM-6 are planned to be produced in future.
The SM-6 has the length of 21.5 ft (6.6 m) and diameter of 13.5 in (0.34 m) for Block IA and 21 in (0.53 m) for Block IB. The Missile has the weight of 3,300 lb (1,500 kg).
The SM-6 is powered by a two-stage solid rocket booster engine and a sustainer. The missile uses 140 lb (64 kg) blast fragmentation warhead with radar and contact fuze detonation mechanism.
The Missile uses various types of guidence systems such as inertial guidence, semi-active radar homing and active-radar homing to approach and destroy its target.