Boost for US Navy

With China and Russia looming as potential adversaries, the U.S. sees the SM-6′s potential as an anti-ship missile.

Fixing the US Navy’s Anti-Surface Warfare Shortfall

By Ben Ho

The mainstay of the American surface fleet today is its cruiser/destroyer (CRUDES) force, comprising 22 Ticonderoga-class cruisers and 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Equipped with the state-of-the-art Aegis combat system, these ships are among some of the most formidable naval platforms in the world. However, their anti-surface warfare (ASuW) repertoire leaves much to be desired because of the neglect of this form of combat since the end of the Cold War. As of late, however, Washington has been taking concrete steps to get its CRUDES complement back into the maritime-strike business again.

Earlier this week, American defense firm Raytheon announced that the destroyer USS John P. Jones had successfully tested in January the new ASuW capability of the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) on a decommissioned frigate, sinking it. This came after the revelation by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last month that the surface-to-air missile, which is manufactured by Raytheon, was being modified to attack ships. He said, “We are going to create a brand-new capability. We’re modifying the SM-6 so that in addition to missile defense, it can also target enemy ships at sea at very long ranges. This is a new anti-ship mode. It makes the SM-6 basically a twofer.”

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