White Sands Missile Range hosted Lockheed Martin's successful Miniature Hit-to-Kill missile test, Jan. 27. The test consisted of a controlled flight to demonstrate the interceptor's increased agility. This was the first successful test with the MHTK's updated electronics, and the second for the interceptor's next-generation airframe.
"WSMR has been working pretty diligently to track the missile," said Steven W. Roberts, the WSMR test officer for the MHTK test. "Everything went so smoothly with this test."
Roberts added they have been working the coordination for the test for the past three month and have been working on new formats to collect data for the speedy missile that can reach up to Mach 2 since 2013. Calibration tests have been performed where model rockets were used to test their collection of data. Roberts said they have vastly improved in terms of data recovery for such a fast missile in anticipation for this test.
The successful test conducted at WSMR advances the program's technical maturity level and builds confidence in the interceptor's ability to defeat current and evolving threats. Roberts said every MHTK flight test in the test cycle takes place at WSMR due to the range's unique capabilities and restricted airspace.
"The U.S. Army and international customers have made it clear that today's global security environment demands agile, close-range solutions that protect warfighters and citizens from enemy rockets, artillery and mortars. The design of the MHTK interceptor enables a highly effective solution in a very compact package," said Tim Cahill, vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in a Lockheed Martin news release. "This test is exciting because it is another successful milestone demonstrating the interceptor's revolutionary capabilities. We look forward to building on this success."
The WSMR support provided during a test mission includes optics, radar, telemetry, communications and a four-person team that provides support at the pad during the mission. Prior to the customer's arrival Roberts said he and his team spend about a week to prepare the site.
"We make it so that when they arrive it's just a matter of them setting up their equipment," he said.
According to the release, the MHTK is shorter than a yardstick and retains the range and lethality required of a counter-RAM solution. MHTK uses hit-to-kill technology, which destroys threats through an extremely accurate application of kinetic energy in body-to-body contact. Hit-to-kill technology eliminates the incoming threat while reducing the risk of collateral damage seen in traditional blast-fragmentation interceptors. The MHTK interceptor is less than 2.5 feet long and weighs about 5 pounds at launch. The missile has the potential to bring miniaturized capabilities to the warfighter which in turn lower costs and reduces logistic footprints.