This Missile Might be the U.S. Navy's Most Important Weapon in Decades

David Axe

David Axe

Security,

Here comes the SM-6. 

This Missile Might be the U.S. Navy's Most Important Weapon in Decades

The Tomahawk and its controversies might make headlines, but as the U.S. Navy re-arms for high-tech warfare, the SM-6 is the missile to watch.

The U.S. Navy in late January 2019 confirmed the designation of its newest cruise missile, in the process clarifying its long-term plan for arming its growing fleet of warships.

The plan heavily leans on one missile, in particular. It's the SM-6, an anti-aircraft weapon that quickly is evolving to perform almost every role the Navy assigns to a missile.

(This first appeared earlier in the year.)

The Navy dubbed the newest version of the venerable Tomahawk cruise missile the "Block V" model, Jane's reported. There are two separate variants of the Block V missile, one with an anti-ship warhead and another with a warhead the Navy optimized for striking targets on land.

Raytheon's Tomahawk has been the subject of controversy in Washington, D.C. In order to save money the Obama administration wanted to pause production of the long-range missile, which since the 1980s has been the Navy's main weapon for striking land targets from the sea.

Congress overruled the Obama administration and continued buying Tomahawks for roughly $1 million apiece, adding potentially hundreds of the missiles to the thousands the fleet already possesses.

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