Defense Secretary Ashton Carter just unveiled a secret new capability for the Standard missile, SM-6 – it now has an anti-surface ship mode. As reported by Defense.Gov website, SecDef revealed the secret to a group of sailors for the first time.
“…Carter said the sailors were the first to learn about a powerful new capability, secretly tested just last month, that builds on the existing SM-6 missile.
“You know the SM-6,” Carter said. “You launch it from surface ships. It's a fantastic surface-to-air weapon, highly maneuverable aerodynamically, and can stop incoming ballistic and cruise missiles … in the atmosphere at a very low altitude.”
He said the SM-6, already one of the department’s most modern and capable munitions, will be modified so that in addition to providing missile defense it also can target enemy ships at sea at extended ranges.
“This is a new anti-ship mode … that can shoot down airborne threats, and now [the same missile] can attack and destroy a ship at long range,” Carter said, calling it a potent new surface warfare capability.” (1)
Wow!!! A “new anti-ship mode” and a “potent new surface warfare capability”? Using a surface to air missile as an anti-ship missile? This could change naval warfare! I’ve never heard of anything this revolutionary since the April 1988 Praying Mantis operation in which the USS Wainwright and USS Simpson launched several Standard missiles at the Iranian Combattante fast attack vessel, the Joshan, and disabled it. Ah … … … wait a minute. Standard missiles had an anti-surface ship mode back in 1988? Did someone forget to tell the SecDef that this is not new technology?
The Navy is now claiming that old, existing technology is some kind of amazing breakthrough? SecDef doesn’t know the basic capabilities of the Navy and no one in the Navy thought to tell him that this was technology the Navy has had for decades? This is just embarrassing. Worse, this is demonstrating incompetence. SecDef is making decisions about the future of the military’s force structure and doesn’t even know the basic capabilities of what we have?
Every time I think Navy leadership has hit rock bottom, they dig a little deeper and lower the bar a little further.