Lockheed Martin has successfully completed the first guided test flight of the miniature hit-to-kill (MHTK) interceptor of its extended area protection and survivability (EAPS) programme at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, US.
Supported by the US Army Research Development & Engineering Command/Aviation Missile Research Development & Engineering Center (RDECOM/AMRDEC), the testing represents a significant milestone in a series of technically challenging events completed under the EAPS Integrated Demonstration Science and Technology programme.
Simulating a tactical situation involving mortar launch by enemy at the MHTK interceptor-protected area, the testing was aimed at characterising the interceptor's seeker, guidance, navigation and control systems.
The threat was successfully detected in flight by a radar, with a tactically configured MHTK interceptor then launched and manoeuvred to fly very close to the target using the energy reflected off it by a ground illuminator.
The interceptor collected data through its seeker while passing the mortar in flight, as target interception was not an objective of the test flight, which integrated and exercised entire intercept system for the first time.
Data collected is intended to support an intercept test flight expected to take place in late-2013.
Lockheed Martin missiles and fire control air and missile defense vice-president Mike Trotsky said: "We are confident the system will play a crucial role in the affordable and effective protection of our forces in the future."
Weighing around 3kg, the 1m-long MHTK interceptor is designed to destroy counter rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) targets at tactical ranges exceeding those of the existing systems through body-to-body impact, when coupled with a fire control sensor capable of offering illumination.
EAPS programme aims at production of inner tier gun based air defence technologies to help bridge the gap between initial C-RAM capabilities and the objective enhanced area air defence systems (EAADS) for 360° protection from RAM threats in future.
Image: Lockheed's extended area protection and survivability system during controlled test vehicle flight test in June 2012. Photo: © 2013 Lockheed Martin Corporation.