Raytheon and the US Army have completed warhead testing of the new Accelerated Improved Interceptor Initiative (AI3), marking a significant step in the system's 18-month development programme.
During testing at an undisclosed location AI3 validated six different warheads.
US Army AI3 product manager lieutenant colonel Brent Wilhide said: "This recent test success was important because it proved the warhead Raytheon will use for AI3 can neutralise the kind of threat AI3 is designed to counter."
Raytheon Missile Systems AI3 programme director Steve Bennett said that the completion of tests would reduce programme risks, because the warheads met or exceeded all test objectives and performed as predicted.
"These tests clear the way for further system integration and testing in 2012 and will enable Raytheon to remain on schedule to provide the army with this much-needed system," Bennett added.
The AI3 is an advanced system developed by Raytheon under a $79.2m contract received from army in March, to help enhance soldiers' survivability against a wide range of incoming threats.
Using proven technologies from Raytheon's previous programmes, including the Sidewinder air-to-air missile and Small Diameter Bomb II, the ground-based system will detect and intercept incoming rockets, artillery and mortars in flight, and is expected to be deployed in 2014.
As part of the contract, the company will develop and demonstrate the system within 18 months, followed by low rate initial production (LRIP) if approved.
The demonstration will use the AI3 Battle Element, consisting of a Raytheon-developed interceptor and a government supplied launcher, fire control system, and command and control system.
The company will also serve as a mission systems integrator for the other elements of the system.