Home » Budget Industry » SM-6 Cleared for International Sale; Australia, Japan, Korea Could Be Early Customers


SM-6 Cleared for International Sale; Australia, Japan, Korea Could Be Early Customers

An artist's concept of the planned Japanese 27DD guided missile destroyer. Image via Navy Recognition

An artist’s concept of the planned Japanese 27DD guided missile destroyer. Image via Navy Recognition

Raytheon’s Standard Missile 6 has been cleared by the Pentagon for international sales and a trio of potential Pacific nations are likely the first customers.

SM-6 — currently in limited initial production – is a key weapon in the both the Navy’s emerging distributed lethality concept and the service’s Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter-Air (NIFC-CA) for its ability to strike air, surface and limited ballistic missile targets.

Of the five international Aegis combat system operators, three are in the process to have the upgraded combat system to field the SM-6 – Australia, Japan and South Korea.

All three countries to have guided missile combatants upgraded to Aegis Baseline 9. Baseline 9 replaces the Aegis combat system older military specific computers with commercial-off-the-shelf servers to handle the data the ships absorb through its radar and adds a multi-signal processor. The modifications allow an Aegis ship to take targeting information from a third party to interdict air and sea warfare threats using the SM-6.

Concerns with both North Korean and Chinese military expansion have driven countries in the region to likewise expand their military capability — particularly at sea.

“These are international Aegis shipbuilding program that are under construction today or new construction,” Thad Smith with Raytheon told reporters on Tuesday.

Royal Australian Navy guided missile destroyer Hobart shortly after its launch on May 23, 2015. Government of Australia Photo

Royal Australian Navy guided missile destroyer Hobart shortly after its launch on May 23, 2015. Government of Australia Photo

Australia’s three under construction Hobart-class guided missile destroyers are set to acquire an extended range active anti-air missile as well as an upgrade of its combat system to Baseline 9.

Japan has two new construction 27DDG guided missile destroyers, which will field Aegis Baseline 9 combat system and Japan’s two existing Atago-class destroyers are set to receive a Baseline 9 upgrade.

Korea’s three planned new Sejong the Great-class guided missile destroyers are also being built with Baseline 9 and will also field the SM-3 ballistic missile defense interceptor.

ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991) in 2008. RoK Navy Photo

ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991) in 2008. RoK Navy Photo

While the three countries all could field the SM-6 its unclear if each country will be allowed to use all three modes of the missile – anti-air warfare, anti-surface and a limited ballistic missile defense capability.

While the missiles will all have the inherent capability for all three missions, the U.S. government will determine which of those features will be activated for international sales, Smith said.

Over the last several years, Japan, Australia and South Korea have made defense buys that could conceivably share targeting information and other data easily with U.S. forces that could create a much more linked network of allies in the Western Pacific.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Those new Sejong class vessels will be very impressive.

    I mean, will there be anything a Burke can do better?

    • RobM1981

      All three ships shown look very much like Burke near-clones. If the weapons and sensors are comparable, it will really come down to the training.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        In my experience the Koreans do things only two ways. Balls to the wall, or sit and eat kimchi – and they aren’t going to spend ~$9B USD to have a boat to eat kimchi in.

      • Ctrot

        Sejong The Great also carry ~30 more missiles than a Burke. More than a Ticonderoga even.

  • NavySubNuke

    Good news for them and for us. The more SM-6’s we can sell to foreign buyers (reliable ones anyway) the more we can realize cost savings in our own SM-6 buys through better economies of scale and learning curve improvements.
    Hopefully Australia, Japan, and South Korea buy them by the hundreds. Maybe someday when NATO decides to start carrying its own weight they can buy some too.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      I *think* the only ones who can are the dutch…. because all of the VLS cells on their frigates are long enough to accommodate the SM-6.

      The other navies that use the Mk41 vls (Germany, Demnark, Spain etc) seem to only use the SM-2 for their mid-range needs…. I don’t think those vessels can accommodate anything bigger without modification.

      • NavySubNuke

        How much modification does a MK-41 actually need to be able to fire an SM-6 vs. an SM-2? I thought SM-6 and SM-2 could both fit without any major work.

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          It depends on what size (depth) launch tubes the vessels have.

          The SM-2 can (or should at least) fit in the ‘self defence’ sized VLS of 5.3m.
          The SM-6 would need the longer ‘tactical’ sized VLS which is 6.8m in length.

          I assume that if a vessel has no room underneath the VLS tubes to swap them for the longer version then they are stuck with what they have.

          From further searching it seems that Australia’s new ‘Hobart class’ destroyers will have the full-fat ‘tactical’ length VLS tubes….. so they should be able to get SM-3 missiles if the need arose.

          • Donald Carey

            If one cannot extend the tubes down then build a deckhouse over them. Problem solved!