The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has narrowed to three the competing terminal-guidance seekers for the miniature air-launched cruise missile interceptor (MALI) being developed under a 30-month technology demonstration.

Two seekers - a radio frequency device and an infrared (IR) sensor - are under DARPA development. The other is a US Army IR seeker.

The MALI is a derivative of the Northrop Grumman ADM-160A, miniature air-launched decoy (MALD).

The MALI will be able to dash supersonically, but will intercept subsonically. The thrust of the MALD Hamilton Sundstrand TJ50 turbojet will be nearly doubled, says USAF programme manager Lt Col Walt Price.

Price says the challenge will be the seeker, which is expected to increase unit cost up from MALD's $30,000. He has set MALI's maximum unit cost at $45,000.

MALI prototypes will attempt to intercept representative cruise missile targets before completion of the technology demonstration in January 2002.

Source: Flight International