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Product Type:

Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile

Using Service (US):


Program Status:

Full Rate Production (FRP) - Block I

Prime Contractor:

Raytheon Company

The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM)

About the ESSM Program:

The Raytheon RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is an improved version of the NATO RIM-7P Sea Sparrow missile, designed for ship self-defense on aircraft carriers, assault ships, and destroyers. The ESSM provides an evolved kinematically improved aft-end missile section for mating, as an all up round, with the modified RIM-7P forebody guidance and warhead section. The ESSM provides the capability to counter high G maneuvering anti-ship missiles, expand the battle space, and increase system firepower. Also, ESSM provides robust defense against asymmetric threats such as small surface craft, low velocity air threats and helos.

The ESSM has an 8-inch diameter forebody that tapers to a 10-inch diameter rocket motor. The forebody includes a guidance section uses a radome-protected antenna for semi-active homing and attaches to an improved warhead section. A high-thrust, solid-propellant 10-inch diameter rocket motor provides high thrust for maneuverability with tail control via a Thrust Vector Controller (TVC). The effective tracking performance and agile kinematics of the ESSM result from S-band and X-band midcourse uplinks, high average velocity and tail control, increased firepower through a vertical quad pack launcher, and greater lethality with a warhead designed for defeating hardened Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM).

The ESSM is designed for 'quad-pack' use in the Mk 41 vertical launching system from Lockheed Martin used on DDG 51 AEGIS Destroyers and CG 47 AEGIS Guided Missile Cruisers; and in the Raytheon Mk 57 Vertical Launching System on the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer. Also, the ESSM can be launched from the Raytheon Mk 29 Mod4 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS). Mk 29 GMLS is also the launch platform for the RIM-7 NATO Sea Sparrow missile. In February 2008, ESSM began integration into Ship Self-Defense Systems (SSDS) on Nimitz Class aircraft carriers, on LHD-7/8, and LHA 6 America Class amphibious assault ships.

ESSM is a cooperative effort among 10 of 12 NATO Sea Sparrow nations governed by a production Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and multinational work-share arrangement. In addition to the United States, ESSM consortium members include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey. The MoU for the cooperative production of ESSM was signed on December 27, 1997. The first production ESSM was delivered to the U.S. Navy by Raytheon Missile Systems in late 2002 Approval for ESSM Full Rate Production (FRP) was given January, 12, 2004 and Initial Operational Capacity (IOC) was achieved in Spring 2004. On August 2, 2012 Raytheon announced the delivery of the 2,000th ESSM to the NATO SeaSparrow Consortium.

The ESSM Block 2 missile is a cooperative effort between the U.S Navy and NATO SeaSparrow Consortium nations. ESSM Block 2 replaces the guidance section with a dual mode Active/Semi-Active X-Band seeker capable of defeating future threat capabilities within the existing envelope, including smaller signatures, increased raid sizes, and adverse environments including countermeasures. Threat types include advanced Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCMs) and Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBMs) as well as surface and asymmetrical threats.

With more than 2,000 missiles in service or in production and another 1,500 anticipated based on customer requirements, the ESSM missile will, according to Raytheon, likely be supported through 2030 and beyond.

ESSM Production Forecast:

A 15-year ESSM production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, worldwide inventories, a complete program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year ESSM production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Missile Forecast service.


The mission of the ESSM is to provide the U.S. Navy and allies of the United States with a missile with performance to defeat current and projected threats that possess low-altitude, high-velocity, and maneuver characteristics beyond the engagement capabilities of the RIM-7P Sea Sparrow.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - DoD ESSM Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Raytheon Company.

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