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
ESSM Block 2 is being jointly acquired by the U.S. and a number of its allied countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey. All these countries have signed an ESSM Block 2 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was meant to solidify the developmental path for the missile system through its next phase. The weapon is slated to be fully operational on ships by the year 2020 – a mere two years away.
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