Missile Segment Enhancement programme will improve manouvrability with a new pulse motor doubling missile range

The US Army is to close a gap in its anti-ballistic missile defences by 2007 by upgrading the Lockheed Martin Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system.

The Missile Segment Enhance-ment (MSE) programme, launched in July with a $260 million contract to Lockheed Martin, will bolster the PAC-3's range and manoeuvrability with a new pulse motor that should double the range of the missile, extending its reach to the lower limits of the Lockheed Martin Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system, says Steve Graham, PAC-3 programme director for Lockheed Martin.

The upgraded missile is designed to out-fly the limits of the existing ground system's radar capability. The programme expects that the missile will soon be cross-cued by extended-range, off-board sensors, such as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) aerostat platform.

Tail fin control surfaces to be added under the MSE programme will improve the missile's agility, offering the army greater flexibility "in killing missiles that have a broader range of tactics, including manoeuvres", said Mike Trotsky, Lockheed Martin's vice-president of air defence systems, at the Association of the United States Army's Space and Missile Defense Symposium and Exhibition in El Paso, Texas on 10 December.

The updated design is expected to be offered overseas, probably with the Netherlands as launch customer, says Graham.

First flight of the interceptor is scheduled for September 2006, followed by two intercept tests in fiscal year 2007.

Source: Flight International