A missile made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems intercepted and destroyed a low-flying rocket in a key step in development of a weapon to counter rockets, artillery and mortar rounds, the company said Monday.
During a recent test with the U.S. Army at the Yuma Proving Ground, the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative (AI3) system intercepted a 107-millimeter rocket as part of the second series of guided test-vehicle flight tests.
The intercept is a major test milestone before the U.S. Army begins live-fire engagements in September, the company said in a news release.
Designed as a "system of system" to save money and time, the AI3 battle system includes a Raytheon-made Ku-band radio frequency fire-control radar, a launcher based on the Army's Avenger system, and an existing C-RAM command and control system.
During the recent test, the AI3 interceptor was initially guided by the radar system, then used its onboard target seeker with the radar to reach the incoming rocket at lethal range. An active proximity fuze detected the target and timed its burst to destroy the mock threat, Raytheon said.
Beginning in September, Raytheon said, the Army will conduct live-fire testing against targets including rockets, unmanned aircraft and other threats to forward bases.
Raytheon won a $79 million contract to demonstrate the technology in March 2012. Other companies, including Northrop Grumman, are involved in separate counter-rocket development programs.