The Marine Corps is aiming to buy three batteries worth of its new Medium Range Intercept Capability (MRIC), after completing a critical assessment next year, with plans to begin fielding in 2026.

Don Kelley, program manager for ground-based air defense, said Wednesday the Marine Corps is working toward conducting the Quick Reaction Assessment in September 2024 for the MRIC prototype, which incorporates components of Israel’s Iron Dome system.

Program Executive Officer Land Systems Ground-Based Air Defense Program Manager, Don Kelley, shows the expeditionary launcher of the Medium-Range Intercept Capability prototype to Marine Corps senior leaders following a successful test demonstration of the system at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, June 30, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by John Hamilton)

“MRIC, what an amazing program this is,” Kelley said during remarks at the Modern Day Marine conference in Washington, D.C. “Given everything goes well, which I totally anticipate it will, we will then go and request permission to go through a [Middle Tier Acquisition authority] for rapid fielding.”

The MRIC prototype involves integrating the Marine Corps’ Northrop Grumman [NOC]-built Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) and General Dynamics Missions Systems [GD]-developed Common Aviation Command and Control System (CA2CS) with Israel’s Iron Dome mini-Battle Management Control components and Tamir interceptor missile.

Details on the next steps for the MRIC program follows the Marine Corps’ Milestone Decision Authority decision in December to approve moving forward on the prototype effort and work toward getting the system certified (Defense Daily, Jan. 9). 

The Marine Corps has conducted several successful live fire tests with a prototype to date, which Kelly has previously said “proved that the performance of the MRIC system with Iron Dome interceptors is good and provides a dedicated launcher solution for the Marines” (Defense Daily, Oct. 31 2022).

“We went from basic scenarios, basic profiles, all the way up to our objective profile utilizing the threat of cruise missiles…And we hit them all. We hit all the profiles. We met our objective,” Kelley said on Wednesday.

Kelley said the Marine Corps is planning for a “series of testing” between now and September 2024, when the prototype system will go through the Quick Reaction Assessment.

“We have integration testing. We’ve established an integration cell down at [Naval Surface Warfare Center] Dahlgren [Division in Virginia]. So we’ll bring [MRIC] down there and we’ll do the software integration, making sure the fixes that were required that we’re working on that. And the team has set up…system integration tests or developmental tests,” Kelley said.

The Pentagon has described a Quick Reaction Assessment as an evaluation of the operational effectiveness of capabilities before they’re deployed, with Kelley noting the Marine Corps is planning to utilize a version of MRIC with four launchers during the assessment. 

If successful, the Marine Corps will then work toward buying three batteries’ worth of MRIC capabilities to field between 2026 and 2028, according to Kelley.

Kelley said the Marine Corps has been in discussions with RTX [RTX] and Israel’s Rafael on building Tamir interceptor missiles for MRIC in the U.S. and expects an announcement within the next six months on where that could be located.

“There’s about six components in the missile that are not U.S. components. And the intent is to update that missile with the other components, for example the encryption going up the length and things like that. And I think we’ll end up calling it the SkyHunter, when it’s all said and done,” Kelley said, referencing what RTX and Rafael call the Tamir missile for U.S. customers.