DALLAS, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A Lockheed Martin PAC-3 missile detected, tracked and intercepted a tactical ballistic missile in a test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
The test Tuesday included a ripple fire engagement, utilizing a PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative Missile as the first interceptor and a PAC-3 Baseline Missile as the second interceptor.
The CRI Missile includes block upgrades to the PAC-3 Baseline Missile for performance improvement.
"We continue to improve the capability of the PAC-3 missile, staying ahead of the evolving threat," said Richard McDaniel, PAC-3 Programs vice president in Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control business.
"This flight test success completes the validation of PAC-3's latest software and hardware updates as we continue to provide this extremely capable hit-to-kill weapon to the warfighter."
The PAC-3 missile is designed to defeat advanced tactical ballistic and cruise missiles, and fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. As the most technologically advanced missile for the Patriot air defense system, PAC-3 significantly increases the Patriot system's firepower, as 16 PAC-3s can be loaded in place of only four legacy Patriot PAC-2 missiles on the Patriot launcher.
Lockheed Martin achieved the first hit-to-kill intercept in 1984 with the Homing Overlay Experiment, using force of impact alone to destroy a mock warhead outside of the Earth's atmosphere. Further development and testing produced today's PAC-3 missile, which won a competition in 1993 to become the first hit-to-kill interceptor produced by the U.S. government.