U.S Navy Warships Fire Never Used Before SM-3 Missiles Against Iran

Some of the Israel bail out money will go towards more of these.

The RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 is a ship-based surface-to-air missile system used by the United States Navy to intercept short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles as a part of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. Although primarily designed as an anti-ballistic missile, the SM-3 has also been employed in an anti-satellite capacity against a satellite at the lower end of low Earth orbit.

For the first time on 14 April 2024, the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyers deployed Standard Missile-3 interceptors to counter an Iranian ballistic missile attack on Israel.

The operation in the Eastern Mediterranean involved the USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), which fired four to seven SM-3s to intercept Iran’s ballistic missiles.

As confirmed by defence sector sources, this marks the first-ever combat use of SM-3 interceptors.

Aegis Combat System

The Aegis combat system onboard the ships fired the interceptors, which feature an exo-atmospheric kinetic warhead to intercept incoming missiles through sheer force.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 15, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) fires a standard missile 3 during exercise Formidable Shield 2017, Oct. 15. Formidable Shield is a U.S. 6th Fleet led, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO-conducted exercise which will improve allied interoperability in a live-fire integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) environment, using NATO command and control reporting structures. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold /Released)

The SM variant has been in service for more than a decade but has never been used in combat.

“Until you use it in combat, there are always questions,” USNI News quoted missile analyst Chris Carlson as saying. However, US SM3 missile defense shot down 100% of Iran’s ballistic missiles fired at Israel.


The SM-3 wasn’t the only exo-atmospheric weapon to be called into action over the weekend.

Israel’s Arrow 3 missile-defense system, which can also eliminate enemy threats in space, was used to shoot down many of the 120 ballistic missiles that Iran lobbed at Israel on Saturday. Arrow 3 and its predecessor, Arrow 2, make up the top echelon of the country’s sophisticated air-defense network.

Israeli officials have said that 99% of the threats fired by Iran and its proxies — which included one-way attack drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles — were intercepted by Israel’s military and its partner forces in the Middle East.