WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army’s most advanced version of the Patriot missile broke its own distance record to intercept a target, according to Lockheed Martin, the missile’s manufacturer.
The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptor took out an air-breathing threat target in a test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, on July 26.
According to Lockheed, this marks the furthest distance a PAC-3 MSE missile has intercepted an air-breathing target. These types of targets mimic the flight profile of fixed-wing aircraft or cruise missiles.
The Army-led flight test demonstrated the missile’s “unique” hit-to-kill capability, which means the missile hits the target dead on. The test also confirmed PAC-3 MSE’s detection and tracking capabilities.
“PAC-3 MSE continues to be successful against today’s evolving threats, and this most recent test validates its effectiveness at extreme distances,” Jay Pitman, vice president of PAC-3 programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a statement.
Lockheed Martin is gearing up to double its PAC-3 MSE production in the coming years as the Army moves into full-rate production. That decision to move forward at a full production rate came in April this year. The service has already made plans in its fiscal 2019 budget request to increase the numbers of missiles it will buy going forward.
On top of the anticipated Army orders, five countries have signed off to buy MSE missiles — Qatar, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Romania and Poland, the most recent customer. Sweden has said it plans to buy the Patriot system along with MSE missiles, but has yet to sign off on the deal.
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 in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.