PARIS--Lockheed Martin [LMT] is moving its new miniature missile into development following an Army deal, announced Wednesday, to mature the close-range lethality interceptor to meet requirements for the Extended Mission Area Missile program.
The two-and-a-half foot, five-pound Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor is designed to take down rockets, artillery, mortars and UAVs, and Lockheed officials are calling it the most “cost effective, high-lethality” option for the Army’s next indirect fire protection capability.
“We’ve just received a contract to take this from the laboratory to the development phase. So over the next 11 months, we will take this down and we’ll add more requirements,” Howard Bromberg, a Lockheed senior vice president, told reporters at the Eurosatory conference here on Wednesday. “This is very exciting because over the next 11 months we’ll go through and move this from the lab to the development phase. And then there will be a downselect by the U.S. government on this missile for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) program, which has been renamed to Extended Mission Area Missile (EMAM).”
The $2.6 million development deal from the Army Cruise Missile Defense Systems Project Office follows several successful MHTK tests, including a recent evaluation in January at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Lockheed is competing along with Israel’s Rafael for the EMAM contract, which is expected to be awarded in April 2019. Fielding of the next IFPC capability is planned for 2023.
Bromberg said the MHTK’s high load capability and advanced radio frequency tools for tracking rockets and UAVs place the solution in a good position for EMAM consideration.
“If you take the size of the MHTK, we put 36 of those in one box. And then we can put two of those boxes on the back of a large pickup truck, like an Army Humvee. So that gives you a lot of capability against high volumes of threats,” Bromberg said. “We think that’s the unique factor. Most other missiles out there today that can do that are about 10 feet long and about 200 pounds.”
The MHTK is four to five times smaller than most current missile interceptors built to take down rockets and UAVs. Bromberg compared the solution to a shrunk-down version of Lockheed’s PAC-3 MSE missile.
“There’s a distinct advantage about being able to have that smaller weapon, you can have multiple rounds, a very deep magazine. And our goal is to get that so it's agnostic to the type of launcher. We don’t care whether you put it on a big launcher, small launcher,” Bromberg said. “It’s an exciting time. I think this is the next step in the future of the hit-to-kill market.”