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By | June 4, 2007

      PAC-3 Missile Variant Unsuccessful In Recent Test

      By Ann Roosevelt

      A development test last month of a new Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] Patriot PAC-3 missile variant experienced an anomaly in a test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., the Army said.

      Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the PAC-3 missile segment upgrade to the Patriot Air Defense System, and produces the missile. Raytheon Co. [RTN] is the prime contractor for the Patriot system and the system integrator for the PAC-3 program.

      “Preliminary test data indicates that a missile anomaly occurred and test objectives were not achieved,” an Army spokesman said. “Analysis is ongoing to determine the cause of the anomaly and more information will be released when the data becomes available.”

      A statement provided by Lockheed Martin said, “Development tests are conducted to exercise and evaluate new systems and prove out their components. As sometimes happens during such tests, an anomaly was experienced during a flight on May 23…This test was of the missile only; no target was involved.”

      Lockheed Martin is developing a new variant of the PAC-3 missile to provide greater capability for the warfighter, the company statement said.

      The House, meanwhile, continues to support the anti-missile system in its version of the defense authorization bill for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, by fully funding the $1.4 billion request for Patriot PAC-3 and the U.S., German and Italian anti-missile Medium Extended Range Air Defense System (MEADS) that incorporates PAC-3.

      The funds include procurement of equipment for two additional Patriot battalions. Another $11.8 million is added for more PAC-3 missiles.

      The Senate Armed Services Committee’s recommendations for PAC-3 in its version of the authorization bill are similar, approving the Army funding request for the Patriot PAC-3 program, including the “Pure Fleet” initiative, and adding $75 million to procure 25 additional PAC-3 missiles. The measure is expected to be filed when the Senate returns from recess, with the full body taking up the bill in late June.

      China Launches Communications Satellite On Long March-3A Rocket

      China launched a communications satellite on a Long March-3A rocket that lifted off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, according to Xinhua, the official news agency.

      The SinoSat-3 satellite will carry radio and TV broadcasting, according to the news agency.

      It was a nighttime launch, blasting off just after midnight Beijing time from the center in Sichuan province in southwest China.

      That launch was the 100th of the Long March series.

      Some 24 minutes after leaving the pad, the satellite separated from the rocket, and then entered geosynchronous orbit, Xinhua reported.

      SinoSat-3 and its carrier rocket, were mainly developed and manufactured by the China Academy of Space Technology and the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, both under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

      Its predecessor SinoSat-2, China’s first direct-to-home satellite, was launched Oct. 29. It was revealed a month later that it failed to deploy its solar panels and communication antennae and was deemed inoperable, according to the Sino Satellite Communications Co. Ltd. (SinoSat), a Chinese satellite operator and user of the SinoSat series.

      A substitute satellite for the failed SinoSat-2 will take at least three years to develop, with more technical upgrades, according to a SinoSat spokesman last November.

      It is not clear whether SinoSat-3 will replace part of the service of SinoSat-2.

      China has 12.6 million digital TV subscribers and 400 million television sets, suggesting a huge potential market for satellite TV.

      SinoSat-1, launched in July 1998, was bought from France mainly to carry China’s radio and TV broadcast and communications services in the Asia-Pacific Region.

      Four Satellites Launched On Soyuz, Next Four To Ascend This Summer

      A Soyuz vehicle launched four satellites into orbit in a single mission, according to Starsem.

      The satellites, which are to serve Globalstar, Inc., a provider of mobile satellite voice and data services, will be followed by the launch of another four satellites soon.

      The Soyuz launch vehicle lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday using the Soyuz-Fregat version of the Soyuz launch vehicle. It was the 1721st launch of the Soyuz family rocket.

      Starsem confirmed that the upper stage accurately injected the satellite dispenser into the targeted low Earth orbit of 920 km (571.7 miles).

      Globalstar, based in California, reported that all four satellites were acquired following separation of the Fregat upper stage and release from the satellite dispenser. While Globalstar is continuing to perform initial satellite in-orbit tests, the performance of all four spacecraft was nominal, according to Starsem.

      Space Systems Loral is the prime contractor for the first generation satellites, and Thales Alenia Space is the subcontractor for this launch.

      Satellites, in operation, will augment the current operating constellation and improve the Globalstar quality of two-way voice and data service through the launch of the second generation satellite constellation.

      Jay Monroe, Globalstar chairman and CEO, said the launch is just the beginning for a system of new space-based assets. The sats will provide new capabilities for the communications system.

      “Globalstar has invested approximately $120 million into the core satellite business in order to launch these four satellites plus the remaining four ground spares,” Monroe noted. The new satellites “represent the beginning of our next-generation constellation, because they will not only help bridge the gap today, but last long into and seamlessly operate with, our second-generation constellation.”

      Globalstar last December inked a Euro661 million, or roughly $865 million, contract with Thales Alenia Space for the design, manufacture and delivery of 48 new satellites for the Globalstar satellite constellation, with deliveries scheduled to begin in the summer of 2009. The satellites are being designed to serve until at least 2025.

      Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Starsem, said Starsem and its Russian partners “look forward to our next launch for Globalstar later this summer.”

      Thales Alenia Space is completing tests on the remaining four first-generation satellites at its facility in Rome. They will then be shipped to the launch complex in Baikonur for final pre-launch preparation.

      Evolved SeaSparrow Missile Launched In Surface-To-Surface Test

      The Evolved SeaSparrow Missile was launched in a test of its surface-to-surface capabilities, Raytheon Co. [RTN] announced.

      According to the company, the Navy fired the weapon using the MK 57 MOD 12 fire control system.

      This was the first Evolved SeaSparrow Missile firing from the new Self Defense Test Ship, formerly the USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964) Spruance Class destroyer, and was the first test of the SeaSparrow capability against surface threats.

      Another first was that the SeaSparrow was fired from the MK 29 MOD 4, eight-cell trainable launcher that is being installed on Navy aircraft carriers and select L-Class ships.

      A final first was that the test constituted the first at-sea demonstration of the MK 57 MOD 12/13 and its MK 73 MOD 3 solid-state transmitter to support SeaSparrow surface mode engagements while operating in autonomous mode.

      Raytheon stated that even though the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile was designed primarily to engage high-speed, maneuvering air threats, this event demonstrated its ability to engage surface threats.

      The test employed a high-speed maneuverable surface target — a small, rigid-hull inflatable boat that represented the threat scenario.

      Improvements to the SeaSparrow were implemented completely through changes to software. This software improvement was co-developed by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif., and Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz.

      The “Evolved SeaSparrow Missile can now more effectively counter the threat posed by fast surface craft before their weapons get in range,” said Frank Wyatt, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of naval weapon systems.

      Further surface-to-surface firings are scheduled later this year from the Self Defense Test Ship and from a Dutch frigate.

      Raytheon is the prime contractor for the SeaSparrow, the MK 57 fire control system, the MK 73 transmitter and MK 29 launcher.

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