Lockheed Martin PAC-3 MSE Missile Intercepts Tactical Ballistic Missile Target During Test

A Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptor missile successfully detected, tracked and intercepted a tactical ballistic missile target in a test at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico on June 25.

According to Lockheed Martin, the test verified missile software and hardware component upgrades that enable future performance of the PAC-3 MSE interceptor “to keep pace against expanding threats of today and tomorrow”.

“We are continuously looking for ways to improve the PAC-3 missile, increase its capabilities and expand the missile’s ability to defend against the growing number of potential threats,” said Brenda Davidson, vice president of PAC-3 Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Flight tests like this demonstrate Lockheed Martin’s commitment to increasing the performance of PAC-3.”

Lockheed Martin claims that the PAC-3 family of missiles are the only combat proven Hit-to-Kill interceptors that defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.

PAC-3 interceptor missile

The family of Lockheed Martin PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability 3) missiles are high-velocity interceptors that defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles (TBM), cruise missiles and aircraft. The missile defeats incoming targets by direct, body-to-body impact.

Lockheed Martin PAC-3 MSE Infographic
A Lockheed Martin PAC-3 MSE Missile launches in a test. (Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin)

The PAC-3 Missile uses a solid propellant rocket motor, aerodynamic controls, attitude control motors (ACMs) and inertial guidance to navigate. The missile flies to an intercept point specified prior to launch by its ground-based fire solution computer, which is embedded in the engagement control station. Target trajectory data can be updated during missile flyout by means of a radio frequency uplink/downlink.

Shortly before arrival at the intercept point, the PAC-3 Missile’s on board Ka band seeker acquires the target, selects the optimal aim point and terminal guidance is initiated. The ACMs, which are small, short duration solid propellant rocket motors located in the missile forebody, fire explosively to refine the missile’s course to assure body-to-body impact.

PAC-3 Missiles, when deployed in a Patriot battery, significantly increase the Patriot system’s firepower, since 16 PAC-3s load-out on a Patriot launcher, compared with four Patriot PAC-2 missiles.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is the prime contractor on the PAC-3 Missile Segment upgrade to the Patriot air defense system. 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 (ELES). These elements are integrated into the Patriot system, a high to medium-altitude, long-range air defense missile system providing air defense of ground combat forces and high-value assets.

Fourteen nations – the U.S., Germany, Kuwait, Japan, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Poland, Sweden and Bahrain have chosen PAC-3/PAC-3 MSE to provide missile defense capabilities. Out of these, ten nations – the United States, Qatar, Japan, Romania, Poland, the UAE, Sweden, Korea, Bahrain and Germany – have signed agreements to procure PAC-3 MSE interceptors.

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