Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract for preparing the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile production line for the missile segment enhancement (MSE) variant of the PAC-3.

Awarded by the US Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), the $68.9m contract provides funding for PAC-3 MSE-specific tooling and test equipment at Lockheed’s Camden facility, as well as other sites and subcontractors, in anticipation of a production decision by the US Army in 2013.

Richard McDaniel, PAC-3 missile programmes vice president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control business, said that the PAC-3 MSE would help a capable interceptor grow to the requirements of countering new and evolving threats.

"These enhancements will ensure the PAC-3 Missile Segment will be capable of defeating these threats far into the future," McDaniel added.

Featuring threat-driven and technology-enabled hardware and software upgrades, the PAC-3 MSE missile is expected to offer enhanced performance, greater altitude and range, compared with the combat-proven PAC-3 cost reduction initiative missile.

The upgrades include integration of the Patriot system with a PAC-3 missile, a highly agile hit-to-kill interceptor, the PAC-3 missile canisters in four packs, a fire solution computer, as well as an enhanced launcher electronics system (ELES).

"These enhancements will ensure the PAC-3 Missile Segment will be capable of defeating these threats far into the future."

According to the company, the missile will be packaged in a single canister, which stacks to offer flexibility for the Patriot air defence system launcher load-out requirements.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control serves as the prime contractor for the PAC-3 MSE missile upgrade, which was selected as the primary interceptor for the multi-national medium extended air defence system (MEADS) in September 2006.

PAC-3 is an advanced, hit-to-kill air defence missile that is designed to destroy incoming tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs), cruise missiles, aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by direct, body-to-body impact.

The missile is currently in service with Egypt, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands and Saudi Arabia, as well as the US.

Image: A PAC-3 Missile launcher, located in Southwest Asia. Image courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Michelle Larche.