Miniature Hit-to-Kill Rocket Interceptor Completes Flight Test

asianobserve

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By Brian Dodson
March 27, 2013
Gizmag




The U.S. Army is funding Lockheed Martin to develop hardware and software for the Extended Area Protection and Survivability (EAPS) program. Under this program, Lockheed Martin has conducted the first guided test flight of the Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor rocket. The MHTK is designed to defeat incoming rocket, artillery, and mortar fire out to ranges of 3 - 4 km (1.9 - 2.5 miles).







More soldiers are killed on the battlefield by mortars than by any other weapon of war. Accordingly, high priority is given to methods of defeating mortar fire. This is one of the purposes of the EAPS program, which is essentially a next-generation miniaturized version of the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system.

However, rather than removing incoming threats with explosive warheads, the EAPS system uses MHTK interceptors, somewhat like a low-altitude version of the U.S. National Ballistic Missile Defense System. These interceptors are very small and highly agile rockets, only 69 cm (27 in) in length, about 3.8 cm (1.5 in) in diameter (not counting the fins), and weighing about 2.3 kg (5 lb). The MHTK is powered by a Nammo Talley rocket engine.

The MHTK rockets contain a tungsten penetrator and a semi-active radar guidance system that guides the rockets to strike targets which are illuminated by a ground-based radar. While this goal may seem fantastic, it is worth remembering that semi-actively-guided .50 caliber bullets have been developed that home on a laser-illuminated target.

The EAPS test was held March 22 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The exercise was designed to test the MHTK interceptor in a realistic field scenario, where an enemy mortar is launched at an MHTK-protected area.

When a ground-based radar detects the mortar round, it's tracked as it approaches the protected area. The mortar round is illuminated by a high frequency radar while one or more MHTK interceptors are launched vertically from a NLOS (Non-Line-Of-Sight) launcher on a trajectory from which the interceptor can detect the reflected illumination from the mortar round.



The MHTK interceptor being tested maneuvered to pass close by the target (this was not an interception test), and as it did so, it returned data to the fire control system. In addition to measuring the performance of the interceptor, which performed in accordance with expectations, this was the first time that the entire intercept system was tested as a unified whole. An intercept flight test is planned for later in 2013.


Miniature hit-to-kill rocket interceptor completes flight test
 

asianobserve

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Is this the missile that will be used in the Cuda project?

New (still quite secret) Hit-to-Kill missile for the F-35 unveiled: the Lockheed Martin "Cuda"
November 30, 2012
The Aviationist



Until a photo with an interesting caption appeared on the November 2012 issue of Air Force Magazine, few people had noticed that an F-35 display model at the Air Force Association Technology Expo 2012, had its weapon bays loaded with a brand new type of air-to-air missile: the Lockheed Martin "Cuda".

"A Lockheed Martin model shows how its "'Cuda" concept for a small AMRAAM-class radar guided dogfight missile could triple the air-to-air internal loadout on an F-35. The missile is about the size of a Small Diameter Bomb and fits on an SDB-style rack."

Photo caption aside, almost nothing is known about the "Cuda" missile.

"We are having some challenges getting information on Cuda cleared for public release," Cheryl Amerine, Cuda POC at the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, told The Aviationist.

"Cuda is a Lockheed Martin multi-role Hit-to-Kill (HTK) missile concept. Lockheed Martin has discussed the missile concept with the United States Air Force. The Cuda concept significantly increases the internal carriage capacity for 5th generation fighters (provides 2X to 3X capacity). Combat proven HTK technology has been in the US Army for over a decade. Bringing this proven HTK technology to the USAF will provide potentially transformational new capabilities and options for new CONOPS."

The Hit-to-Kill missile technology Lockheed is designing for the USAF is still classified and some of the capabilities of the Cuda missile are being reviewed for public release. Still, something can be said based on the few details available.

First of all, the F-35 will carry kinetic energy interceptors: "hit-to-kill" weapons rely on the kinetic energy of the impact to destroy their target. That's why some HTK missiles don't carry any warhead (others use a lethality enhancer warhead).



HTK technologies can be used for missile defense (Scuds, rockets or even ballistic missiles). Is someone at the Pentagon studying the possibilty to use F-35s carrying clusters of Cudas as aerial anti-missile systems to intercept small rockets, SAMs (surface-to-air missiles)?

Second, that unlike Sidewinders, Cuda missiles, rather than being equipped with an IIR (Imaging Infra Red) seeker, will be radar-guided. This means they will be ejected from the internal bays in such a way the exposure of the stealth plane is reduced.

Third, the possible integration of the Cuda with the F-22: since a Raptor can carry eight SDB, it can theoretically carry up to eight Cuda, even if the perfect air-to-air loadout could be mix of AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9X and Cuda missiles.


http://theaviationist.com/2012/11/30/cuda/#.UVQ66xz7J1A
 
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Singh

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How much more different/advanced than Iron Dome is this ?
And iirc its not very economically feasible, and it can be perhaps only deployed to protect very strategic or densely populated areas.
 

asianobserve

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Then the tech in the ground based hit-to-kill missile will fined its way to the Cuda project. It's only a matter of upsizing the missile and adding on a radar guidance.
 
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Singh

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I haven't read much about hte Cuda project but HTK intereceptors ground based are much more different than Air based HTK interceptors.
Mortars etc. follow a ballistic path, and are short range. Only on the ground radars possibly aided by Aerial radars can track and intercept them.

Cuda Project could be used to tackle low flying CMs etc. but on its own I doubt if it can track mortars and take 'em out. It will be something like what Russians claimed their Mig-31BM had, ability to take out SAMs, CMs, A2GMs etc.
 

p2prada

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@asianobserve

Won't be easy to know if CUDA and MHTK are related. In my opinion the missiles and maybe even the penetrator would be different.

Anyway, MHTK is an actual requirement from the Army while CUDA is a concept project.
 
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