The newest variant of the Patriot missile misfired during the Army’s latest flight test of its future missile defense command platform, with another interceptor ultimately used to take down a tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target.

Col. Phil Rottenborn, project manager for PEO Missiles and Space, confirmed the news first reported by Inside Defense, that the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) deployed a PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) missile after the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missile misfired.

Launch of PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptor. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)
Launch of PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptor. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

“Root cause analysis on the MSE misfire is ongoing, but preliminary indications are that all IBCS commands to the launcher were executed successfully, and that the error may lie within the missile, but further analysis is required to determine that with certainty. The MSE is a proven and capable missile with a great track record, and I’m confident the team will sort this out quickly,” Rottenborn said.

The PAC-3 MSE misfire occurred during the second IBCS Limited User Test flight test, which took place last Thursday at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. 

Officials told reporters last week the demonstration of the Northrop Grumman [NOC]-developed IBCS system was successful in taking out a TBM target and a cruise missile surrogate, involving IBCS engagement operation centers, two Patriot radars, two Sentinel radars, and four total launchers all connected through the IBCS Integrated Fire Control Network. (Defense Daily, August 20). The Patriot missile misfire was not mentioned during the briefing. 

Rottenborn noted that the test plan included having two interceptors ready for the TBM surrogate target, as well as having an additional PAC-3 CRI available. 

A PAC-2 GEM-T interceptor was used to take out the cruise missile surrogate during last Thursday’s test.

An IBCS flight test on August 13 was successful in taking out two cruise missile surrogates with two PAC-3 CRIs (Defense Daily, August 13).