WASHINGTON — The US Army has launched a number of different types of missiles from its new Multi-Mission Launcher (MML), developed entirely by the service, but last week marks the first time a foreign interceptor was tested with the system.
An Israeli Tamir interceptor was fired from the MML on April 14 at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and destroyed an unmanned aircraft system target as part of a bigger effort to demonstrate Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2-Intercept (IFPC Inc. 2-I), according to an Army statement released Wednesday.
The IFPC Inc. 2-I is intended to defeat UAS, cruise missiles, rockets, artillery and mortars.
The Tamir missile is the interceptor for the Israel-US-and US co-developed Iron Dome air defense system that is deployed in Israel and is used to protect the country from incoming rockets, artillery and mortars.
The Israeli and US governments have a co-development and production agreement to produce parts for Iron Dome and build the interceptors. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon are the co-producers for the program. About 55 percent of the work is done in the US while the remaining work is done in Israel.
While the US does not use the Tamir missile in any of its own systems, proving its functionality with a US launcher signals potential consideration for its use by the US military down the road.
The Army has also successfully launched Lockheed Martin's Longbow Hellfire, as well as Raytheon's AIM-9X Sidewinder, Stinger and miniature hit-to-kill missiles.
The MML, mounted on a medium tactical vehicle, is being developed internally by the Army and represents the first development of a major program by the government industrial base in more than 30 years, the service said.
The Army spent $119 million to build the prototypes, which includes owning the technical data rights. The cost of developing the system outside of the Army would have been about three times as much, according to information obtained during a tour with the acting Army secretary last month of the Aviation & Missile Research and Engineering Development & Engineering Command (AMRDEC) at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, where one of the MMLs was on display.
The launcher, which consists of 15 tubes, which can hold either a single large interceptor or multiple smaller interceptors, can rotate 360 degrees and elevate from zero to 90 degrees, according to the Army.
The launcher's open-system architecture allows it to interface with the Army's air and missile defense Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) Engagement Operations Center to support and coordinate target engagements. IBCS will be "the brains" of the service's future air and missile defense system with the capability of stitching a variety of radars, launchers and interceptors together.
The IFPC Inc 2-I is a joint effort between AMRDEC and the Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space’s Cruise Missile Defense Systems' (CMDS) project office.
The Army plans to build six more MMLs in the engineering and manufacturing development phase at Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania.