Air Defense: Evolution And The Sparrow


September 5, 2009:  Several NATO nations, as well as the United Arab Emirates, are ordering an additional 186 RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) and 77 storage containers. This eleven year old system has been very popular because of its low cost (about $400,000 each), simplicity and effectiveness..

ESSM is a modified version of the standard Sea Sparrow shipboard antiaircraft missile, which has been around since the late 1970. It was based on the Sparrow, radar guided air-to-air missile. Actually, the ESSM shares little more than the name with its predecessor (the Sea Sparrow). Even its shape is quite different. Essentially, a new missile, ESSM can handle aircraft, supersonic anti-ship missiles and fast surface craft.

ESSM is 12 feet (3.66m) long, has a diameter of 10 inches (254mm) and weighs 620lbs. (280 Kg). It carries an 86lb (39kg) blast fragmentation warhead, has a range of 50 kilometers, and a top speed of 4,210 kilometers an hour. Guidance is provided by the firing ships radar keeping the missile informed where the target is, until the missile is very close, and can use its own guidance system (which homes in on radar signals reflected off the target).

ESSM is most popular as a quad-pack (four missiles in storage containers, fitting  inside a single Mark 41 Vertical Launch Systems cell) as opposed to a single larger SM-2 Standard missile. -- Mike Perry


Article Archive

Air Defense: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close