Lockheed Martin has reported progress with two long-running missile development programmes. Production qualification testing of the US Army's Line-of-Sight Anti-Tank (LOSAT) missile has begun, while a system-level interface demonstration of the Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) has moved the US/German/Italian programme closer to development.

The LOSAT firing was the first guided flight test of the hit-to-kill missile against a moving target, and the first of 18 qualification tests leading to a low-rate initial production decision planned for next year.

The kinetic-energy missile was fired at short range against a moving M60 tank. In July, the hypervelocity missile demonstrated its effectiveness against a reinforced concrete structure, Lockheed Martin says. The LOSAT advanced technology demonstration has been under way since 1996, when the original programme was cancelled and the system transitioned from the Bradley armoured fighting vehicle to the Humvee high-mobility wheeled vehicle.

The MEADS interface demonstration, involving end-to-end hardware and software simulations of the "plug-and-fight" architecture at Lockheed Martin, comes as reports indicate the US Department of Defense has approved the multinational air defence system to move into the design and development phase, scheduled to begin next year, despite lingering concerns over cost.

MEADS, which uses Lockheed Martin's PAC-3 hit-to-kill missile, is intended to replace US and German Patriot and Italian Nike Hercules air-defence systems.

The system-level demonstration involved simulations of the multifunction fire-control radar; battle management, command, control communications and computers system; lightweight launcher; and PAC-3 missile. The MEADS International joint venture, involving EADS and LFK in Germany, MBDA Italia and Lockheed Martin, is working on a 32-month risk-reduction engineering phase begun in 1999.

The venture submitted its business management proposal for the seven-year development phase last month. The USA is funding 55% of the programme, Germany 28% and Italy 17%.

Source: Flight International