This August, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded contracts to fund research and development for the Multi-Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV).
Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing were awarded approximate U$10 million contracts by the Pentagon to design a prototype for the MOKV, “a concept that can destroy several objects within a threat complex by considering advanced sensor, divert and attitude control and communication concepts,” according to a MDA press release.
The Pentagon has previously tried its luck on a similar endeavor, the Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) programme. The Defense Department terminated the programme back in 2009 over what then Defense Secretary Robert Gates called: “Significant technical challenges and the need to take a fresh look at the requirement.”
Steve Nicholls, the director of Advanced Air & Missile Defense Systems at Raytheon Missile Systems, told MT in an exclusive interview the current MOKV programme draws on the accomplishments of the previous MKV programme and advances in the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) tracking and discrimination capabilities. “The Raytheon team is applying significant government and industry accomplishments in performance, reliability and affordability already established in the Standard Missile (SM)-3, Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) and Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) systems. Having the ability to engage multiple objects with a single booster launch significantly reduces the cost per kill, often referred to as ‘bending the cost curve,’” he remarked.
The EKV and SM-3 Kinetic Warhead already serve in critical roles of homeland and allied defence. Raytheon is currently focused on improving the BMDS with the RKV.
Raytheon’s roadmap for its MOKV contract includes the Concept Review this 15 December, a major near-term milestone in the Concept Definition and Risk Reduction Phase. The review will include a technical description of the MOKV concept and plans for the next program phases. Nicholls pointed out the current phase rolls directly into a Risk Reduction Phase, which will begin in early 2016 and proceed as a series of separate risk reduction efforts based on contractor nominations. “The acquisition plan calls for a Proof of Concept Demonstration Phase beginning in fiscal year 2018 and a Product Development Phase beginning in fiscal year 2022. Both phases take several years to complete,” he added.
Raytheon has assembled an eclectic team to advance its early MOKV work. The company’s concept draws from the experience and expertise of internal organisations across the corporation business units, national labs, industry partners, small businesses and universities. Nicholls further noted work will continue with these organizations, consistent with the selected risk reduction efforts over the next phase. He continued “A more formal team will be established when proposals for the Proof of Concept phase are submitted.” Asked if non-US companies can participate on the Raytheon-led team, Nicholls, replied, “government security requirements limit participation to US citizens.” He declined to list the company’s current industry team members.
Development of Raytheon's MOKV concept is being led by the Advanced Missile Systems organisation - headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. Design and support functions are drawn from across the company’s missile and other business units, and its factories in both Tucson, Arizona and Huntsville, Alabama provide manufacturing and production support. Expertise from virtually dozens of disciplines and focus areas are being leveraged from across the company to focus on the MOKV.