PARIS — The US Army has delayed its plans to move forward with a capability it was developing to launch a variety of missiles against rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) threats, so Lockheed Martin is turning to the international market to sell its Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) missile designed to combat the worldwide threat.
Lockheed's MHTK missile can go up against both RAM threats and some unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Bob Delgado, the company's international business development director for air and missile defense, told Defense News on Thursday at Eurosatory, a land warfare conference.
The RAM threat "has proliferated, it's a very cost-effective threat," he said. "Obviously the cost of mortars and rockets are extremely low, not something you'd want to engage with these large missiles."
Lockheed developed the MHTK weapon in order to take out RAM threats — the second-largest killer of soldiers in Iraq — at a fraction of the cost of larger missiles.
The Army is developing the Integrated Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) program in three phases, first tackling the UAS threat, a major priority for the service. In the second increment, the Army plans to focus on countering RAM threats. "That is where our missile comes in," Delgado said.
The missile is 27 inches long, two inches in diameter and weighs 5 pounds "at launch," he added. The semi-active missile has no warhead, using kinetic energy — or thrust — instead to take out a target. "It's really a bullet hitting a bullet," which is the bread and butter capability in Lockheed's missile technology. One launcher can fit 36 of the missiles, Delgado said, and two launchers can fit onto a single truck.
The Army has moved the IFPC Increment 2 program "to the right for a couple of years for whatever reason," Delgado said, although it continues to test its Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) with a wide variety of interceptors regularly. The MHTK missile has been successfully shot from that launcher twice, Delgado noted.
"What we are doing is pursuing with international customers," Delgado said. "We are developing and we are hoping to integrate it upon their systems. If they have a radar, an illumination-type radar, we will provide them the missile, the launcher, a command-and-control suite, whether that is the [Medium Extended Air Defense System] international battle manager or the [Lockheed Martin UK] SkyKeeper or whatever."
Delgado added there is interest in the weapon everywhere from the Middle East to Europe to Asia.
Lockheed Martin says its MHTK system can go up against both RAM threats and some unmanned aircraft systems
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin
Lockheed is working with the US government now for permission to release the MHTK missile for purchase by international customers and is hoping that in two to three years it can sell it abroad, according to Delgado, making it possible for the first official customers of the miniature hit-to-kill missile international ahead of the US Army.
The company is preparing for two major tests of its miniature weapon next month and also in November, Delgado said.
In July's test, "we will launch it and see if it follows our guidance control and follows the radars," he said.
November's test will be up against a mortar threat, although the company hasn't picked the caliber yet, Delgado added.
The test in July is government-funded and the test in November is company-funded.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.