HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--South Korea, for the first time, procured Lockheed Martin's [LMT] Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile capability by entering into a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) with the United States, a company official told sister publication Defense Daily.
Lockheed Martin Vice President for PAC-3 Programs Scott Arnold said April 1 he expects a formal contract to be finalized within the next couple of months. In addition to buying PAC-3 missiles, Arnold said South Korea will also procure fire solution computers and launcher modification kits from Lockheed Martin. Contract value is unknown as a formal contract has not yet been finalized, Arnold said at the Association of United States Army (AUSA) Global Warfare Symposium and Exhibition.
Arnold said fire solution computers are the equipment that gets integrated into ground equipment to calculate shooting solutions before firing missiles. Launcher modification kits, he said, go on the Patriot launchers and enable the fire control capability for PAC-3. The Patriot launchers are developed by Raytheon [RTN], which announced March 30 it was awarded a $769 million direct commercial sale (DCS) contract for an undisclosed quantity of Patriot batteries. Raytheon also develops Patriot's radar, Guidance Enhanced Missile TBM (GEM-T) and performs the integration, according to company spokesman Michael Nachshen.
The number of PAC-3 missiles to be delivered and the delivery schedule are still to be determined, Arnold said, but he expects deliveries to take place over the next two to three years. Arnold said Lockheed Martin's PAC-3 production line in Camden, Ark., is currently operating at peak capacity and is capable of producing 300 PAC-3 missiles in one year.
The Army said it wouldn't be able to respond to a request for comment by press time April 3.
Arnold said South Korea currently has some Patriot ground equipment, but it's not up to the latest standard that the United States employs and is also not capable of shooting the PAC-3. Lockheed Martin, Arnold said, is providing the interface equipment and the missiles to enable South Korea to reach full PAC-3 capability. The interface equipment, he said, is the launcher modernization kits and the fire solution computer.
The PAC-3 missile is being incorporated into the Patriot air defense system and is capable of defeating tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft, according to Lockheed Martin. PAC-3 is a high velocity interceptor that defeats incoming targets by direct, body-to-body impact. Sixteen PAC-3 missiles can be loaded into a Patriot launcher compared with four of the legacy PAC-2 missiles.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the PAC-3 missile segment upgrade to Patriot, which includes the interceptor, the PAC-3 missile canisters (in four packs), a fire solution computer and an enhanced launcher electronics system. The Patriot air defense system is considered a high to medium altitude, long-range system.