By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Raytheon Co's Standard Missile-6 intercepted and destroyed a short-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii last week, the Pentagon said on Monday, paving the way for the SM-6 to be deployed on U.S. Navy Aegis ships next year.
The test was one of four successful tests completed last week by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Pacific Command and the crew of the USS John Paul Jones, a Navy destroyer, which showed the ability of SM-6 and SM-2 missiles to destroy enemy cruise and ballistic missiles.
"This important test campaign not only demonstrated an additional terminal defense layer of the (Ballistic Missile Defense System), it also proved the robustness of the multi-use SM-6 missile on board a Navy destroyer," Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Admiral James Syring said in a statement.
Syring said the tests underscored the versatility of the latest version of the Aegis combat system built by Lockheed Martin Corp for use on Navy destroyers.
The SM-6 missile intercepted a ballistic missile target in its final seconds of flight on July 28, followed by three more tests over the next days. MDA fired two more SM-6 missiles in anti-air warfare roles to engage cruise missile targets and then an SM-2 Block IV missile against a ballistic missile threat.
All the tests occurred at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.
The MDA said it would use the test results to improve and enhance the multilayered U.S. missile defense system, which defends against a range of ballistic missile threats in all phases of flight.
Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems, said the SM-6 missile offered the Navy greater flexibility to address a broad range of threats.
"SM-6 is the only missile in the world that can do both anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense from sea," Lawrence said in a statement.
Raytheon said the SM-6 missile would be integrated into MDA's Sea-Based Terminal program on board U.S. Navy ships as part of the Aegis missile defense system, and was on track to be ready for combat use in 2016.
Lockheed said the latest Aegis configuration for destroyers, called Baseline 9.C1, used commercial technologies and open architecture systems to merge ballistic missile defense and anti-air-warfare capabilities into an integrated system.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler)