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Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK)

A Lockheed Martin-built Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor was successfully launched from a Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) in an engineering demonstration on 04 April 2016 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.

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. Lockheed Martin announced plans to provide its Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) missile to the international market following delays in US Army acquisition plans. The advanced weapons system incinerates incoming rocket, artillery, and mortar (RAM) threats by releasing a barrage of munitions in quick succession.

Bob Delgado, the company’s international business director for air and missile defense, said in an interview with Defense News on 16 June 2016 that the MHTK missile can degrade threats from RAM and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The RAM threat "has proliferated, it’s a very cost-effective threat," said Delgado. "Obviously the cost of mortars and rockets are extremely low, not something you’d want to engage with these large missiles."

Rocket and mortar attacks were the second-largest cause of death for US soldiers in Iraq, prompting the defense contractor to develop the MHTK weapon to shield personnel at a fraction of the cost. The US Army, however, backed away from the acquisition late in the process, citing the reduction in US troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The MHTK weapon features a miniaturized missile that is 27 inches long, two inches in diameter and weighs 5 pounds at launch. The missile contains no active warhead, but instead uses kinetic energy to take out a target. One launcher can fit 36 miniaturized missiles and two launchers are able to fit in the back of a flatbed truck, providing portability to the rocket and mortar shield.

Delgado said that Lockheed has received interest in the weapon throughout the Middle East, potentially increasing the danger that this system could fall in the hands of extremists. Given the potential risk to American interests in the Middle East, Lockheed must now seek approval from the US government for permission to sell the MHTK missile abroad. Delgado said he expects the international sale to be approved by the US State Department and Pentagon officials.

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Page last modified: 21-06-2016 19:04:48 ZULU