On October 15, the US Navy sailors and US Missile Defense Agency specialists aboard USS McFaul successfully launched the SM-6 from the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, the US 6th Fleet said in a news release.
The SM-6 is "the only missile in the world that can perform anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, and terminal ballistic defense," according to Raytheon. The SM-6 completed its final land-based tests in June and needed to complete some sea-based testing to finalize the missile's avionics system before the missile enters low-rate initial production.
In addition to the weapons testing exercise, a slew of NATO allies joined together to simulate a group self-defense situation know as Formidable Shield. More than 3,300 troops hailing from Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Denmark, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK gathered in the Outer Hebrides in western Scotland to train for a live-fire integrated air and missile defense situation. Fourteen ships were present for the exercise.
"I couldn't be more proud of the government and industry team from across the NATO alliance who planned and executed these missions," MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a news release, adding that the "joint exercise and the Navy test launch truly demonstrate the capabilities the US and our allies are developing to defeat complex cruise and ballistic missile threats."
The SM-6 test wasn't part of the Formidable Shield training, "but was conducted in coordination with that event to leverage the available range assets," the US 6th Fleet said.
The interceptor was tested in the Pacific Ocean during August from the USS John Paul Jones and actually thwarted a ballistic missile threat. The October test appears to have only successfully launched the munition and the military did not explicitly mention that the SM-6 had intercepted a target.
"We are working closes with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving out Aegis ballistic missile defense ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase," Greaves said August 30.