Lockheed Martin-built Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor was successfully launched from a Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) in an engineering demonstration on April 4 at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The launch demonstrated the agility and aerodynamic capability of the MHTK missile, which is designed to defeat rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) targets at ranges greatly exceeding those of current and interim systems. Today’s launch advances the program, increasing the level of MHTK integration maturity with the MML.
“Today’s global security environment demands agile, close-range solutions that protect soldiers and citizens from enemy rockets, artillery and mortars,” said Hal Stuart, Lockheed Martin’s MHTK Program Manager. “This test is a critical milestone demonstrating the interceptor’s maturity, and we look forward to continuing to build on this success using key data gathered from today’s launch.”
The MHTK interceptor was designed to be small in size while retaining the range, lethality and reliability of other Hit-to-Kill interceptors. MHTK is just over two feet (61 cm) in length and weighs five pounds (2.2 kg) at launch. The compact footprint of the MHTK allows multiple rounds to be packaged in a single MML tube.
The MML is a key component of the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 – Intercept program. The program is designed to provide Army forces protection from cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft systems and RAM threats. The MML is designed to carry and launch a variety of missiles from a single launcher.
MHTK’s effective range [for a single-shot kill] against RAM will be 3 km or more
- Miniature Hit-to-Kill Interceptor Delivers Unequalled Capability
- Operational effectiveness against all threats
- Lethality tests confirm robust capability
- Range and velocity support operationally significant defended area
- Defeat of saturation attacks
- Compact interceptor enables deep magazine High lethality minimizes rounds fired to achieve a kill
- Low ammunition cost
- Affordability considered in all design trades
- Design for Affordability/Design for Manufacture used early
- $16K or less per kill
- Minimal/low potential for collateral damage
- Single round fired per target Hit-to-Kill results in destruction of interceptor and threat
- Minimal force structure impact
The MHTK uses Hit-to-Kill technology, which destroys threats through kinetic energy in body-to-body contact. Hit-to-Kill technology removes the risk of collateral damage seen in traditional blast-fragmentation interceptors. The MHTK interceptor complements other Lockheed Martin Hit-to-Kill missile interceptors by delivering close range lethality with proven success for a true layered defense.
While there are no energetics in the missile – as the name suggests it is a body-to-body contact kill system – Lockheed Martin has integrated a ‘lethality mechanism’ or penetrator package in the MHTK to help penetrate the skin of the target. Murphy noted that “the precision and accuracy that go with hit to kill allow us, if required, to remove the penetrator package and integrate a small warhead, to achieve the effect desired without extensive collateral damage, and this is something that could be explored.”
Lockheed Martin has integrated unique amorphous alloy canards, sourced from Liquidmetal Technologies, for the MHTK. To achieve the miniaturised electronics package for the interceptor, Lockheed Martin has sourced a range of technologies for components and packaging from outside of its customary supply chain.
“We’ve borrowed from the medical imaging industry, from the cell phone industry, and from ‘large data farming’ industries; we’ve also leveraged some unique packaging industries to fit the electronics, the batteries, to fit the controllers, the motor and to fit the elements of the seeker into the missile.”
Murphy said that Lockheed Martin will offer three guidance options for MHTK: it initially integrated a semi-active RF seeker, which was the main focus of the EAPS programme; the US Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) funded a feasibility investigation of an active seeker in the same form factor.
The company is also evaluating integration of a semi-active laser (SAL) for use with a third-party designator source. “We designed and built the missile so that we could interchange guidance options; if we wanted to integrate a miniaturised video camera in the front end, and it made sense to do so, we are also able to that.”
The interceptor itself is powered by a compact new rocket motor developed by Nammo in the United States. Nammo said the MHTK’s narrow 40 mm diameter interceptor body precluded the requirement for any active cooling or heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning devices; its solution focuses on mechanical design innovations combined with the development of a new propellant, and materials able to withstand sustained heat. Nammo declined to disclose the exact compositions used, but said that the kinematic requirements needed a very fast burning propellant that is required “to burn for seconds”.
To meet the proposed IFPC Inc 2-I Block 2 architecture, Lockheed Martin will package multiple MHTKs in an all-up round (comprising the missiles and the canister they are launched from). The all-up round fits a single launch tube of the MML and can be shipped in the same canister assembly, thus delivering the missile loadout required by the army, but also minimising the missile’s logistics footprint.
SOURCES – IHS Janes, Lockheed Martin