Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] enhanced version of the combat-proven PAC-3 Missile, the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), successfully intercepted a threat representative tactical ballistic missile target recently at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., the company said.

The PAC-3 MSE missile provides increased performance, greater altitude and range than the baseline PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) missile, the company said in a statement. As the first spiral development of the PAC-3 CRI missile, the PAC-3 MSE missile variant incorporates threat-driven and technology-enabled hardware and software upgrades to defeat the advancing threat set. The PAC-3 missile is the only Patriot missile that utilizes hit-to-kill technology to destroy incoming targets.

“The PAC-3 MSE missile performed extremely well,” Richard McDaniel, director of PAC-3 Missile programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said. “The continued evolution of the missile segment, combined with rigorous testing, will result in the fielding of a tremendous defensive capability for the Warfighter.”

Upgrades incorporated into the PAC-3 MSE missile include: The solid-rocket motor now has a second pulse and is larger in diameter; Aerodynamic surfaces are larger and the span of the aft control surfaces is greater to accommodate the increased performance envelope; Thermal batteries have been sized consistent with increased performance and longer mission time; and the PAC-3 MSE missile is packaged in a single canister that stacks to provide flexibility for the Patriot or MEADS launcher load-out requirements.

The PAC-3 MSE Missile was selected as the primary interceptor for the multi-national Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) in September 2006. The MEADS program has completed hardware Critical Design Reviews and is now integrating and testing the radars, launchers, tactical operation centers and reloaders needed for system tests at White Sands Missile Range in 2012.

Lockheed Martin achieved the first-ever hit-to-kill intercept in 1984 with the Homing Overlay Experiment, using force of impact alone to destroy a mock warhead outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Further development and testing produced today’s PAC-3 missile, which in 1993 won a competition to become the first hit-to-kill interceptor produced by the U.S. government.