Lockheed Martin [LMT] plans to fire its Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor at airborne targets in the coming months in hopes of persuading the U.S. Army to buy the lightweight weapon to counter rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) threats, according to a company representative.
The first company-funded test will probably occur in November or December against an undisclosed RAM target at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., said Chris Murphy, business development manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. More flights tests will likely follow in 2017.
“We’ll go do some intercept shots to not only increase the level of maturity that we have but maybe increase the confidence level that the Army would have in selecting us,” Murphy told Defense Daily Aug. 4.
Murphy’s comments came less than a week after Lockheed Martin launched the 5-pound, 2.5-foot-long interceptor July 29 at White Sands as part of an Army engineering demonstration effort. No target was involved in that test, which “gave us an understanding of the aerodynamics,” he said.
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 missile to counter cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft, Lockheed Martin believes the MHTK could contend for an expected second missile focused on countering RAM. Both missiles would be fired from the Army’s new ground-based Multi-Mission Launcher (MML).
A competition for the second missile might occur “in the next two years,” Murphy said. While the Army currently uses the land-based Phalanx gun to shoot down RAM threats, MHTK would provide three to four times the range of that system while destroying a target with one missile instead of multiple rounds, he explained.