Australia's Department of Defense has released a spectacular photo sequence of a Raytheon Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) being launched from the frigate HMAS Anzac, currently deployed in support of the U.S.-led multinational exercise Rimpac 2008 off Hawaii.
According to ESSM prime contractor Raytheon Missile Systems (Tucson, Arizona), the missile is an international cooperative upgrade of the RIM-7 NATO SeaSparrow Missile, and provides self-defense battlespace and firepower against high-speed, highly maneuverable anti-ship missiles.
ESSM was developed for the U.S. Navy and nine of the other 11 member nations of the NATO SeaSparrow Consortium. The missile is currently deployed on U.S. Navy DDG-51 (Arleigh Burke-class) Aegis destroyers and surface combatants of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.
Future integration is underway onto the U.S. Navy's Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruisers, aircraft carriers, future DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers as well as the surface combatants of the remaining ESSM team navies and multiple third-party international navies, says Raytheon (those include export customers Japan and the UAE).
The photo sequence released by Canberra cleared shows how the ESSM is vertically launched, then immediately tips over once it has cleared the masts of the launching ship to point and accelerate toward the threat.