SM-3 IB Interceptor Grid

A Raytheon Standard Missile (SM-3) launches from a U.S. Navy ship. (Image Credit: Raytheon)

General Dynamics Mission Systems awarded two contracts totaling $43 million to deliver optical components and structures that provide navigation and guidance for Raytheon Missiles & Defense

Cullman, Ala. – General Dynamics Mission Systems announced today that it has been selected by Raytheon Missiles and Defense to provide advanced optical components and structures for the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB and SM-3 Block IIA interceptors with two firm-fixed price contracts valued at $43 million. The estimated completion date of the contracts is 2023.

The SM-3 IB Interceptor is a defensive weapon used by the U.S. Navy to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Instead of using a warhead to destroy its target, Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s interceptor uses sheer force to hit threats with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 mph. The SM-3 IIA multi-mission interceptor engages targets at higher altitude, and recently intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target in a flight demonstration.

In order to achieve this extremely high level of accuracy the SM-3 IB and IIA uses seekers that function as a navigation system. General Dynamics will provide Raytheon with specialized optical components and structures that make up the seeker, including a small telescope, which track the target and provide information to guidance and calculations that guides the missile and enables the interceptor to be extremely precise in its engagement.

“These optical components and structures are extremely strong and lightweight, they are one-third the weight of aluminum and six times stiffer than steel making them ideal for harsh environments like space,” said John Schulz, director of structures at General Dynamics Mission Systems. “For more than five decades we have been one of the few companies in the world with the expertise and capabilities to design and machine these components and structures to achieve the virtually unmatched tolerances required for these advanced optical systems.”

General Dynamics has designed and manufactured custom precision metal optical components for defense and space-based applications for more than 50 years. General Dynamics components have gone into some of the world’s most advanced optical systems in the world including the James Webb telescope, Mars rover and the F-35 Electro Optical Targeting System.

General Dynamics Mission Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), provides mission critical solutions to the challenges facing our defense, intelligence and cyber security customers across all domains. Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, General Dynamics Mission Systems employs more than 12,000 people worldwide. For more information about General Dynamics Mission Systems’ broad portfolio of capabilities, visit and follow us on Twitter @GDMS.