Defense Technology International – Tests this summer of Raytheon Standard Missile 2 weapons from the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie were intended to demonstrate technology for a quick-reaction defense against ballistic missiles in their terminal phase. In the dry terminology of missile defense, this may not sound critical, but it indicates that the Navy is very worried about a new threat: the anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).
Indications are that China, in particular, is developing an ASBM – an intermediate-range ballistic missile tipped with a guided warhead. The weapon outranges any sea-based weapon, including strike aircraft, and is hard to intercept with the most widely used versions of the Standard Missile, which are designed to hit aircraft.
The Navy is responding rapidly, according to RAdm Alan Hicks, program director for Aegis missile defense at the Missile Defense Agency.