Lockheed Martin has successfully validated the tactical ballistic missile (TBM) destruction capabilities of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile segment enhancement (MSE) missile.

The TBM target was intercepted by the first PAC-3 MSE interceptor, while the second missile self-destructed as planned during the test firing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, US.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control PAC-3 programmes vice president Richard McDaniel said: "Today’s flight test provided another example of how the PAC-3 MSE missile has significantly expanded the Patriot battlespace, engaging a TBM at unprecedented range."

The test firing follows the medium extended air defence system’s (MEADS) first successful intercept test flight against an airborne target in November, which also employed a PAC-3 MSE missile round.

During testing, the missile performed an over-the-shoulder manoeuvre to intercept the target attacking from behind the MEADS emplacement.

The PAC-3 MSE is an upgraded version of combat proven PAC-3 air defence missile, featuring a powerful motor, larger fins and other structural modifications that provide increased manoeuvrability against faster and advanced ballistic and cruise missiles.

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The upgrades include integration of the Patriot system with a PAC-3 missile, PAC-3 missile canisters in four packs, a fire solution computer, as well as an enhanced launcher electronics system (ELES) for enhanced performance, greater altitude and operational range.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control serves as prime contractor for the PAC-3 MSE missile upgrade, which was selected as primary interceptor for the MEADS in September 2006.

PAC-3 is an advanced, hit-to-kill air defence projectile weapon designed to defeat a broad spectrum of incoming TBMs, cruise missiles, as well as aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by direct, body-to-body impact.

Image: The PAC-3 will feature a Ka-band millimetre wave seeker.