The U.S. Navy has given the Raytheon Company-developed SEASPARROW Missile (ESSM) its highest assessment, “suitable and effective”. This assessment, from the U.S. Navy’s Commander, Operational Testing and Evaluation Forces, came shortly after the conclusion of the Operational Testing and Evaluation (OPEVAL) conducted earlier this year and paves the way for a full-rate production decision scheduled for later this month. In March 2003, the Navy conducted two successful Technical Evaluation (TECHEVAL) firings of ESSM from the USS Shoup (DDG 86). The subsequent OPEVAL (Operational Evaluation) tested not only the missile, but the ship’s system, launcher and crew.
ESSM has demonstrated the ability to destroy anti-ship missiles, current and projected, over the course of its numerous at-sea flight tests both on the U.S. Navy Self Defense Test Ship and on the USS Shoup. ESSM is aimed to bring transformational anti-ship missile defense capabilities to the naval fleets of the United States and its NATO allies. The missile is being developed for the U.S. Navy and nine of the other 11 member nations of the NATO SEASPARROW Consortium. ESSM will be deployed on Aegis Flight Iia Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, Aegis Ticonderoga class cruisers, aircraft carriers and the Navy’s newest destroyer, DDX. Raytheon began developing ESSM at its Missile Systems business in Tucson, Ariz., in 1995. Raytheon delivered the first production ESSM to the Navy in September 2002.