• Reuters


The United States and Japan say the first live-fire test of Raytheon Co.’s new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile, under joint development by the two countries, was a success.

Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said the test was conducted Saturday from the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of California.

The SM-3 IIA is a 21-inch variant of an earlier SM-3 missile, which works with the U.S. Aegis combat system built by Lockheed Martin Corp. to destroy incoming ballistic missile threats in space.

The project’s cost is estimated at around $2 billion.

Riki Ellison, who heads the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said the two countries will spend about $1 billion each to design, test and eventually produce the new missiles, a model for joint weapons development programs.

“It is the U.S. Department of Defense’s best case of equal funding and engineering shared with an allied country to develop and . . . field a new weapon system to better enhance the national security of both nations,” Ellison said in a statement.

Raytheon said the new SM-3 IIA missile has bigger rocket motors and a more capable kill vehicle that will allow the missile to engage threats sooner and protect larger regions from short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.

Saturday’s test evaluated the performance of the missile’s nose cone, steering control and the separation of its booster, and second and third stages. No intercept was planned, and no target missile was launched, U.S. and company officials said.

“The success of this test keeps the program on track for a 2018 deployment at sea and ashore,” said Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon’s missile systems business.

Ellison said three more years of testing are planned for the missile before it was put to use on U.S. Navy Aegis ships, Japan’s Kongo-class ships, and at land-based Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania.