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Successful Intercept Test For Army’s PAC-3 Missile Systems

By | September 11, 2006

      The Army recently conducted a successful intercept test flight of Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., according to the service.

      The Aug. 31 test involved an engagement using two PAC-3 missiles against a short-range, full-body Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM) target. Preliminary test data indicates a successful intercept of the target and mission objectives were achieved, the Army said.

      During the flight test, two PAC-3 Missiles were “ripple-fired” at an incoming Patriot-As-A-Target, a legacy Patriot missile modified to represent a TBM.

      This was the 19th successful flight test out of 22 conducted to date, according to a statement from Lockheed Martin. Raytheon [RTN] performs the integration work for the PAC-3 system.

      The test demonstrated the system’s capability to detect, track, engage and intercept a short-range TBM target. The target for the mission was a Patriot-as-a-Target (PAAT), a Patriot legacy missile modified to represent a short-range TBM target, the Army said..

      Test objectives of this mission included:

      • demonstrating system capability to engage a TBM target,

      • demonstrating system capability to intercept and kill a TBM target,

      • verifying proper operation and interaction of the Information Coordination Central and the Fire Units in a battalion during the engagement of a TBM under track from multiple Fire Units,

      • collecting data for missile reliability scoring and PAC-3 Reliability, Availability and Maintainability (RAM) assessment,

      • demonstrating proper post-intercept processing within the battalion for a TBM target.

      Last week’s flight test repeats the November 2005 mission in order to address remaining test objectives that were not fully met during that test, according to Lockheed Martin.

      Soldiers of the 2-43rd Air Defense Artillery, Fort Bliss, Texas, participated in the test.

      The PAC-3 system successfully completed operational testing and began fielding in 2002. It was first used in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

      The PAC-3 Missile is a high velocity, hit-to-kill missile and is the newest addition to the Patriot family of missiles. It provides increased capability against advanced tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and other air-breathing threats, according to the Army.

      Lockheed Martin achieved the first-ever hit-to-kill intercept in 1984 with the Homing Overlay Experiment, using force of impact alone to destroy a mock warhead outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Further development and testing produced today’s PAC-3 missile which won a competition in 1993 to become the first hit-to-kill interceptor produced by the U.S. government, the company said.

      The PAC-3 Missile Segment upgrade consists of the PAC-3 missile, a highly agile hit-to-kill interceptor, the PAC-3 Missile canisters (in four packs), a Fire Solution Computer and an Enhanced Launcher Electronics System, the company added.

      The Patriot PAC-3 program is managed by the Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space and executed by the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Project Office in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Dallas, Texas.

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