Lockheed Martin has conducted the first launch of a miniature interceptor designed to defeat rocket, artillery and mortar threats. The May 26 controlled test vehicle flight at White Sands, N.M., did not involve an intercept.

The miniature hit-to-kill (MHTK) interceptor is being developed under the U.S. Army’s Extended Area Protection and Survivability (EAPS) integrated demonstration. Northrop Grumman is developing a command-guided interceptor.

EAPS is developing technology for the Army’s planned Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) Increment 2 — Intercept program. IFPC will provide a counter-rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) capability for deployed forces.

Lockheed’s agile, semi-active-guided interceptor is less than 50 mm (2 in.) in diameter and 1 meter (3.3 ft.) in length and weighs just 3 kg. (6.6 lb.). The missile is designed to meet a $16,000 per unit cost target at the volumes projected by the Army.

Guided flight tests of the MHTK against live RAM targets are expected to begin in the second half of 2012, most likely in the fall, says Mike Trotsky, vice president of air and missile defense programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control.

The Army’s IFPC analysis of alternatives, to be completed soon, is looking at both kinetic — missile and gun — and directed-energy weapons. Today, the Army uses a land-based version of the Navy’s Phalanx gun system for C-RAM.

A Milestone A decision to launch a competitive technology-demonstration (TD) phase is planned for this year, leading to the award in fiscal 2013 of multiple contracts to design the fire-control sensor and interceptor and demonstrate key system components.

The five-year TD phase is expected to be worth $600 million. According to budget documents, the Army plans a downselect to a single contractor and a Milestone B decision to begin engineering and manufacturing development in fiscal 2016.