The accelerated improved intercept initiative (AI3) system being developed by Raytheon for the US Army has successfully destroyed an unmanned aerial system (UAS) in flight, during testing at an undisclosed location.
Representing part of the AI3 programme's second guided test flights, the latest test follows the system's first in-flight lethal intercept of a low quadrant elevation (QE) 107mm rocket in August 2013.
Raytheon Missile Systems AI3 programme director Steve Bennett said the UAS destruction demonstrates that the AI3 system has capabilities beyond its original requirements and can also defeat a broad spectrum of threats to modern day troops.
"This latest success is a testament to our strong partnership with the US Army and our team's commitment to meeting the customer's challenging schedule and cost requirements," Bennett said.
The system has successfully completed the first guided flight test series early last month.
Manufactured as part of a $79.2m contract awarded by the army in March 2012, the AI3 is an advanced system designed to enhance troops' survivability by intercepting a wide range of incoming threats, such as rockets, artillery, mortars, cruise missiles and UAVs in flight.
Expected to be deployed in 2014, the system features a Ku radio frequency system (KRFS) fire control radar, an avenger-based AI3 launcher with technical fire control, a counter rockets, artillery and mortars (C-RAM) command and control node, as well as the AI3 interceptor missile.
Meanwhile, the army is set to conduct for-the-record testing of AI3 in a bid to analyse its ability to engage and destroy baseline and enhanced capability targets, including 107mm and other rockets, UAS and other threats to forward operating bases (FOBs).
Besides supplying the interceptor, technical fire control and KRFS radar, Raytheon also provides support to the government team, which is the overall systems integrator.
Image: Raytheon's accelerated improved intercept initiative system has destroyed its first unmanned serial system target. Photo: courtesy of USAF.