The US Department of Defense says that the first development test-flight (DT-1) of the Lockheed Martin Vought Systems Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico appears to have been successful.

According to the company, the test objectives achieved included verification of launch and flight functions, interface with existing Patriot systems and missile operation before target intercept. There was no attempt made for the hit-to-kill PAC-3 to intercept a target.

The flight-test series will be conducted in two stages: developmental tests and operational tests (OT). The DT-1 missile carried a special-instrumentation package in place of the seeker, as will the forthcoming DT-2 weapon. The initial flights are structured to verify critical system and missile performance before conducting target-intercept flight tests. Sixteen DT and OT flights will include launches against different classes of targets.

The PAC-3 - previously known as the Extended Range Interceptor - is an anti-tactical ballistic-missile system. It is to be the lower tier of a two-tier missile-defence network. The trouble-plagued Lockheed Martin Theater High Altitude Area Defense weapon is to provide for longer-range intercepts. Flight testing will run throughout 1998. Initial deployment of the PAC-3 is set for the following year.

Source: Flight International