Unique SM-6 Missile System: With Longer Range than the Patriot, Capability to Destroy Aerial Targets at Distances up to 370 km

Launch of SM-6 (all photos: US DoD)
Launch of SM-6 (all photos: US DoD)

The SM-6 missile system boasts unique capabilities for destroying airborne targets at distances of up to 370 km

In conditions where the enemy continues to actively employ tactical aviation for long-range strikes with planning bombs, and the deployment of even a "roaming" Patriot in the frontline zone becomes increasingly hazardous due to the enemy improving strike tactics and targeting key objects in the frontline zone, the question arises: are there more effective alternatives?

Of course, it is possible to mention the F-16 fighter jets, the delivery schedule of which began to shift from the first quarter of 2024 to spring, or even summer. But the task of these fighter jets to repel enemy aircraft from the frontline depends on two parameters.

Read more: Amid Challenges, Six Out of 45 Promised European F-16s Set to Reach Ukraine by June

The first is the number of F-16s themselves. The second is their armament.

Because currently, the question of which AIM-120 missiles they will be armed with is not being raised at all. And there is a significant difference between the AIM-120C-8 with a range of 160-180 km and the AIM-120C-4 with a range of 50 km.

Launch of AIM-120 from F-16, Defense Express
Launch of AIM-120 from F-16

Therefore, another option remains to search for a system, and in the current conditions, it should be a ground-based air defense missile system.

But all that exists in the United States for more long-range missiles than the GEM-T for the Patriot is the RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM), also known as the Standard Missile 6, or SM-6. It was developed based on the RIM-156 SM-2 of the 1980s.

The SM-6 entered service in 2013, and its capabilities allow it to destroy targets at distances of up to 370 km, according to most sources. And along with this, the ability to intercept ballistic targets, as well as even attack ground targets, all at a range of up to 460 km.

Standard Missile 6 or SM-6, Defense Express
Standard Missile 6 or SM-6

The SM-6 uses a modified radar seeker from the AIM-120 with a doubled radar, which also supports guidance in jamming conditions, in the terminal phase. Over-the-horizon targeting is also possible through target designation from distant radars.

Overall, it is indeed an excellent surface-to-air missile. However, in the conditions of Ukraine, there is one significant technical problem - it is a naval missile designed for missile destroyers and cruisers with the Aegis system.

Although this issue has already been resolved, as these missiles can be launched using the Typhoon, which is a wheeled launcher with shipboard universal shafts. Its purpose is broader because it can also launch Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Typhon system, Defense Express
Typhon system

However, the Typhon system in the United States is extremely limited in quantity, with only two deployed Multi-Domain Task Forces known to include one Typhon battery each.

Each battery consists of one command vehicle, four launchers, and support vehicles.

If the Armed Forces of Ukraine receive these installations, even two such complexes deployed deep in the rear in the minimum configuration will be able to cover the entire occupied territory of Ukraine.

Defense Express reported earlier on How Various Countries Would be Destroying Crimean Bridge: Scenarios for U.S., Israel, and France

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