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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

23 February 2015

IDEX 2015: Lockheed Martin’s Air and Missile Defence Technology

Lockheed Martin’s hit-to-kill technology makes stopping a bullet with a bullet mid-flight a reality. “Hit-to-Kill” (HTK) refers to destroying a threat with body-to-body impact by the interceptor missile. The impact takes place with a large amount of kinetic energy that completely destroys threats containing weapons of mass destruction, keeping them away from protected areas when it matters most. HTK technology is made up of three fundamental principles:

1.    Sensing the threat
Before an interceptor can eliminate a threat, it must first detect the exact location of that threat.  This is done through a series of events. First, the ground-based defense system detects the threat, estimates an intercept point, and launches the interceptor missile. Once the interceptor is near the threat, the interceptor’s on-board radar seeker searches for and acquires the threat. The radar seeker provides a highly accurate location for the intercept target through searching, scanning and processing the location data en route to the threat. To achieve body-to-body impact, the on-board radar seeker measures critical target information that is then used by the interceptor’s guidance system to pinpoint where to aim on the target’s body.

2.    Getting to the threat
In order to effectively intercept the threat, the interceptor must be very agile and maneuverable. To achieve this agility, the interceptor requires rapid steering control. For example, the PAC-3 Missile achieves control throughout flight by utilising its solid propellant rocket motor, aerodynamic surfaces, attitude control motors (ACMs) and inertial guidance to achieve the agility required for HTK. The key component to PAC-3’s agility is its 180 ACMs, which are small, short-duration rocket motors near the nose of the missile. They provide the agility to refine the missile’s course at the critical homing and endgame segments of flight to ensure body-to-body impact.

3.    Stopping the threat
As the missile intercepts the threat, it destroys the target through body-to-body impact, akin to a bullet hitting a bullet in mid-air. The body-to-body impact has extremely high kinetic energy, protecting the defended area from debris.

HAAD Launch Mod 3

HTK technology is a defining advantage of Lockheed Martin missile defence systems.  Previous air and missile defence interceptors did not have the sensing or agility components required for HTK, and instead relied on fragmentation warhead technology. This method attempts to disable or deflect the threat off course - this is not as accurate and can result in dangerous debris falling close to the protected area. Several Lockheed Martin interceptors can also achieve HTK at higher altitudes and ranges, which is important when defending against weapons of mass destruction.

The Lockheed Martin missile defence system provides a layered approach to missile defence, to ensure the protected area is safe from incoming threats. PAC-3, PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) are all HTK and provide the ability to intercept threats at multiple altitudes, ranges and speeds.

The need for a strong air and missile defence system has proven itself over and over again. In the current global environment, it is a necessity for the safety of nations around the world.  HTK technology makes sure that these threats stay safely far away from home. At Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, we’re not afraid of imagining a brighter future. It is brave thinking and determination that makes stopping a bullet with a bullet a reality.

PAC-3 Launch

For more information please see MILITARY TECHNOLOGY #2/2015, available at the show and on booth #C1 10-11. 

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