Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3)
Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for the PAC-3 missile. The PAC-3 missile is a high velocity hit-to-kill missile and is the next generation Patriot missile developed to defend against theater ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.
The current PAC-3 upgrade plan consists of the PAC-3 missile, a highly agile hit-to-kill interceptor, the PAC-3 Missile canisters in four packs, a fire solution computer and an enhanced launcher electronics system. Lockheed Martin recently received a $260 million contract from the ArmyÃs Aviation and Missile Command for a Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) program to upgrade PAC-3 to fill a coverage gap that exists with the current variant. There is a gap of protection in a “small area of a TBM engagement zone” that currently would not be covered by the PAC-3 or Lockheed Martin’s other Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, officials said. The MSE program is aimed at bolstering the PAC-3 capability to counter evolving threats. The MSE program includes flight software, flight testing, modification and qualification of subsystems, production planning and tooling, and support for full Patriot system integration, Lockheed Martin said. The original Patriot was built by Raytheon [RTN], which continues to be responsible for the system integration.
The PAC-3 was used during the recent war in Iraq. The Pentagon has yet to release findings into an investigation into the Patriot’s involvement in friendly fire incidents during the war. In the opening days of the war, a British Tornado GR4 strike aircraft was shot down by a Patriot battery. Then, an Air Force F-16 aircraft fired at a Patriot battery operating inside Iraq after mistaking it for an enemy system. Also, a Navy F/A-18 built by Boeing [BA] was downed by a Patriot battery. Both Raytheon PAC-2s and the latest generation PAC-3 missiles were used to engage nine short- range ballistic missiles during the war, Pentagon officials reported. While four PAC-3s were fired, Pentagon officials reported that most of the intercepts were done by the upgraded PAC-2s. Meanwhile, there are new sources of data, which were not available during the first Gulf War, that can be used to evaluate the Patriot performance as the Pentagon makes its assessment. For example, data will be available from sensors including the Navy’s Aegis radars that viewed the Patriot operation during the battle. The Patriots also received cueing from other sensors in the region. The USS Higgins (DDG-76) Aegis destroyer provided early warning cues to the Patriots for the engagements. Despite the successful engagements, critics of the Patriot are questioning the factors that led to the system’s involvement in friendly fire incidents.
There have not yet been any foreign sales of the PAC-3, though all of the Patriot-equipped nations have expressed interest in the system, according to Lockheed Martin. The Netherlands is expected to be the first nation other than the United States to field PAC-3, with program officials reporting that deal could be finalized within the next year. Meanwhile, Taiwan and Germany also have expressed interest in the PAC-3. In addition, the PAC-3 is the primary missile to be used in the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). MEADS will be used by the United States, Italy and Germany. There also has been some discussion of Britain participating in the development portion of the MEADS program, and some speculation that France may also be interested at some point down the road. France was an original participant in MEADS, but pulled out of the program.
Regardless of the outcome of the PentagonÃs investigation into PAC-3Ãs performance during the Gulf War, continuation of the weapons program enjoys support from the DoD leadership as well as from Capitol Hill. Army and Missile Defense Agency officials have declined to speculate on whether the problems in the Gulf were due to a problem with PatriotÃs identifying friend-or-foe codes, the Patriot systems or the application of the system in the combat scenarios. The fiscal year 2004 budget request contained $174.5 million for PAC-3. In addition, some lawmakers are pushing for improvements to be made to the system’s identification friend-or-foe capability and countermeasures. Overall, DoD officials said they were satisfied the Army, before deploying the PAC-3, had addressed and solved the technical glitches that cropped up in the system during operational test & evaluation (OT&E) testing last year. During a simultaneous engagement OT&E flight test, one PAC-3 missile hit a target while a second PAC-3 missile failed to launch. Also, during an another test, one PAC-3 missile hit a Patriot missile being used as a ballistic missile target while another PAC-3 missile failed to launch against a Storm II ballistic missile target by Orbital Sciences [ORB]. The MDA and Army had been criticized before the war for not testing the Patriot against actual Scuds, with some in Congress pushing for new flight tests against the actual Scuds. The FY Ã04 defense bill includes some funding for Scud testing. The current PAC-3 production rate, authorized in October 2002, includes an FY ’03 production quantity of 100 missiles and 108 missiles in FY ’04. Production rates are ramping up and will continue through the next decade, according to Lockheed Marten. For example, the companyÃs proposed MSE plan would include an upgrade to the PAC-3 solid rocket motor (SRM) and the addition of bigger fins on the rocket. However, the missile’s front-end electronics and guidance software would be unchanged. The PAC-3 SRM is built by Atlantic Research.