50 Years Old and Only Getting Better as it Guides ESSM Block 2 Toward IOC
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the NATO SeaSparrow Project, which has evolved into clearly the most successful international cooperative weapon development, production, and in-service support programme in NATO. As this article was published the NATO SeaSparrow Project included 12 nations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the US.
The Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM), the kinematic upgrade to the RIM-7P SeaSparrow missile and in full operational use in the US since 2004, is currently deployed by three “third party” nations outside of the Consortium: Japan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates, according to Brian Burton, Raytheon’s Senior Director for the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile Program. “Working alongside the US Navy and NATO SeaSparrow Project Office, Raytheon Company is in discussion with several additional nations about enhancing their naval ship defense capabilities through the procurement of ESSM,” Mr Burton revealed.
ESSM (also sometimes referred to as RIM 162D) is the product of an international cooperative production effort. The weapon sector expert pointed out that as the design agent and prime contractor for the programme, Raytheon formally partners with companies from Consortium nations to support the development, production, and in-service support of ESSM. “These partner companies include: BAE Systems Australia Limited (Australia), Honeywell Limited (Canada), Terma A/S (Denmark), RAM-System GmbH (Germany), Intracom Defense Electronics (Greece), Thales Nederland B.V. (The Netherlands), Nammo Raufoss AS (Norway), Indra Sistemas S.A. (Spain), and Roketsan Missile Industries, Inc. (Turkey) along with many more domestic and international suppliers,” Mr. Burton added.
The ESSM technology is quickly evolving. Indeed, the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 continues its steady progress toward achievement of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2020 highlighted by an aggressive ongoing developmental flight test flight programme.
Mr Burton provided more details on the evolving ESSM Block 2, which, “delivers a new dual mode guidance capability without changing the propulsion portion of the Block 1 variant,” he said and concluded, “Retaining ESSM’s Semi-Active guidance and compatibility with existing platforms while adding an Active X-Band radar delivers increased capability to defeat current and projected future threats.”