As China and Russia continue to build up their arsenal of “ship-killer” missiles, the United States Navy apparently has plans to counter the weapons. Officials have said that the Navy and numerous NATO partners are firing a new, high-tech ship defense weapon that can identify, track, and attack maneuvering anti-ship missiles.
Using an active seeker which enables the missile to change course in flight, is the method of “attack” against the anti-ship missiles of the Chinese and the Russians, service officials have said, according to National Interest.
The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, or ESSM, is a new version of an existing Sea Sparrow weapons system currently protecting aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships and other vessels against anti-ship missiles and other surface and airborne short-range threats to ships.
The recent live-fire test follows the successful completion of two Controlled Test Vehicle flight tests in June 2017 and is the first in a series of live fire tests that will lead to the ESSM Block 2 missile entering production, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Alan Baribeau told Warrior Maven.-National Interest
The ESSM Block 2 live-fire exercise was the first use of the weapon’s active seeker system.
That’s the emerging technology which enables the missile to achieve improved flight guidance, which will help it target by both receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals, Navy officials said.
The ESSM also uses radar technology to locate and then intercept a fast-approaching target while in flight. Additionally, the use of what’s called an “illuminator” is a big part of this capability, Raytheon developers told Warrior Maven in prior interviews.
The hopes are that this defense weapon can combat the “ship-killer” missiles being developed and constantly advanced by the Chinese and the Russians.
The emerging missile has an “active” front end, meaning it can send an electromagnetic signal forward to track a maneuvering target, at times without needing a ship-based illuminator for guidance.
Also, the missile is able to intercept threats that are close to the surface by sea-skimming or diving in onto a target from a higher altitude, Navy officials explained. –National Interest
According to PEO IWS Public Affairs, the NATO Seasparrow Project is an international effort of 12 nations consisting of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United States. Each nation contributes to engineering, development, production, and sustainment of the missiles and supporting equipment.
Unclassified Video: NAVSEA ESSM Block 2 missile test
Warrior Maven spoke with unnamed Raytheon and Naval officials who described how the advanced technology is a game-changer for NATO:
“The current ESSM missiles use what’s called a semi-active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals bounced off the target by an illuminator; the ESSM Block 2’s “active” guidance includes illuminator technology built onto the missile itself such that it can both receive and send important electromagnetic signals, Navy and Raytheon officials explained.
Block 2 relieves the missile from the requirement of having to use a lot of illuminator guidance from the ship as a short-range self-defense, senior Navy officials have said.
A shipboard illuminator is an RF signal that bounces off a target, Raytheon weapons developers have explained. The antenna in the nose in the guidance section [of the missile] sees the reflected energy and then corrects to intercept that reflective energy, the Raytheon official added.
The emerging missile has an “active” front end, meaning it can send an electromagnetic signal forward to track a maneuvering target, at times without needing a ship-based illuminator for guidance (game-changing).
The so-called kinematic or guidance improvements of the Block 2 missile give it an improved ability to counter maneuvering threats, Navy and Raytheon officials said.
ESSM Block 2 is being jointly acquired by the U.S. and a number of allied countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. All these countries signed an ESSM Block 2 Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, designed to solidify the developmental path for the missile system through its next phase.”
Warrior Maven also mentions the weapon is expected to be fully operational on naval vessels by 2020, which coincides with a dated PEO IWS Public Affairs powerpoint that said “FY 20: IOC (Initial operational capability).” In other words, weapon developers are working jointly with NATO allies to guarantee the weapon is operational across the alliance of countries’ naval fleets by 2020.