The U.S. Navy recently test-fired a Standard Missile-6 at a supersonic, over-the-horizon target from a desert ship at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, as part of ongoing testing of a next-generation shipboard cruise missile defense system slated to deploy later this year.
The SM-6 was functioning as part of a critical emerging technology for the Navy called Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA. The NIFC-CA system uses an airborne relay sensor, ship-based radar technology and the SM-6 missile to locate and destroy approaching anti-ship cruise missiles, aircraft and UAV targets at distances beyond the horizon, Navy officials say.
The concept is to use airborne sensors to help identify and destroy approaching cruise missile threats at further distances than traditional ship defenses can currently reach. Recognizing incoming threats at greater distances gives ship defenses a better chance of intercepting or shooting down an approaching enemy aircraft or missile.