Lockheed Martin [LMT] has begun firing its Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor at mortar rounds in tests at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., according to a company official.
While a shootdown has not yet occurred, Lockheed Martin is getting closer to achieving an intercept as it learns more about the performance of both the MHTK and the target, said Tim Cahill, vice president of integrated air and missile defense for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
“We haven’t successfully completed a complete close on a mortar, but we’re dialing in the sensors right now and we’re getting awfully close,” Cahill said March 21 at a Lockheed Martin media day in Arlington, Va. With “each flight, we’re getting better and better, more and more capable, and we’re getting the system very, very close to completion now in terms of a prototype.”
As with other interceptors the company has developed, “it takes some time” to fine-tune the weapon’s performance, Cahill added. “To us, it’s kind of a normal development process.”
Mortar rounds are sometimes considered the most challenging of the rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) threats. One of the reasons is that “they never spin perfectly, they never turn just right [and they have] uneven surfaces,” Cahill said.
Lockheed Martin is developing the 5-pound, 2.5-foot-long interceptor in hopes of persuading the U.S. Army to buy it to counter RAM threats. While the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) Increment 2–Intercept program is expected to pick Raytheon’s [RTN] AIM-9X Sidewinder as its initial ground-launched missile to counter cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft, Lockheed Martin believes the MHTK could contend for an expected second missile focused on countering RAM.