Raytheon has successfully test-fired the newly upgraded Patriot integrated air and missile defence system with the US Army at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, US.

During testing, a PAC-3 missile segment enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) missile successfully detected, tracked and engaged a threat-representative ballistic missile target.

The PAC-3 MSE is an upgraded version of the combat-proven PAC-3 air defence missile, which is designed to destroy incoming tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, as well as aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles by direct, body-to-body impact.

Collectively known as Post-Deployment Build 8 (PDB-8), the upgrades were funded by a 13-nation partnership, and are expected to make Patriot easier to operate.

The enhancements will also enable the missile to differentiate between friendly and enemy aircraft.

"This latest test ensures the 13-nation-strong Patriot partnership will have an enhanced ability to use different interceptors in the PDB-8 configuration."

Raytheon Integrated Air and Missile Defence vice-president Ralph Acaba said: "Patriot users around the globe are currently employing interceptor mixes in ongoing combat operations to increase cost-effectiveness and provide commanders with operational flexibility.

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"This latest test ensures the 13-nation-strong Patriot partnership will have an enhanced ability to use different interceptors in the PDB-8 configuration to defend against a broad spectrum of threats."

The Patriot missile is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defence system. It is designed to protect soldiers against advanced threats, such as aircraft, tactical ballistic and cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The system is currently in service with Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, as well as the UAE and the US.

Image: PAC-3 MSE is an upgraded version of combat proven PAC-3 air defence missile. Photo: Courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.