Raytheon has successfully completed the second series of flight tests for the guided test vehicle (GTV) of the accelerated improved intercept initiative (AI3) system, currently under development for the US Army.
Carried out at an undisclosed location, the testing involved the first inflight lethal intercept of a low quadrant elevation (QE) 10mm rocket, marking a significant test milestone prior to the army's live-fire engagements in September.
Using inflight radio frequency (RF) data link updates from the Ku radio frequency system (KRFS) sensor radar for initial guidance soon after the launch, the AI3 interceptor then used its onboard seeker and illumination from the radar to guide the missile to within lethal range.
An active RF proximity fuze detected the incoming target and also determined the optimal detonation time for the warhead, enabling the interceptor to calculate the appropriate warhead burst time and destroy the threat.
Raytheon Missile systems AI3 programme director, Steve Bennett, said: "This second GTV demonstrated full integration of the AI3 battle element with the C-RAM command and control architecture against the threat target."
US Army counter rockets, artillery and mortars (C-RAM) and AI3 project director Michael Van Rassen said: "The project used a systems approach that lowered risk and enabled an accelerated schedule by leveraging existing government components and off-the-shelf subsystems to expand the footprint of the protected area for our soldiers."
Manufactured as part of a $79.2m contract awarded by the army in March 2012, AI3 is an advanced system designed to enhance troops' survivability against a wide range of incoming threats, such as rockets, artillery and mortars in the battlefield.
Expected to be deployed in 2014, the system features a KRFS fire control radar, an avenger-based AI3 launcher, a C-RAM command and control, technical fire control and the AI3 interceptor missile.
The army testing will include analysing AI3's ability to engage and destroy baseline and enhanced capability targets, including 10mm and other rockets, unmanned air systems (UAS) and other threats to forward operating bases.
Image: the accelerated improved intercept initiative system will safeguard soldiers against incoming rockets, artillery and mortars. Photo: courtesy of SSGT Aaron D Allmon II, USAF.