Small is the New Big for This Mighty Missile

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To shrink the technology behind a missile, our engineers had to look outside the defense
industry for inspiration.

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Today's soldiers face many close-range threats, such as rockets, artillery and mortar (RAM) attacks, which often pose as much risk through collateral damage as they do at impact.

But with the introduction of the Miniature Hit-to-Kill missile – these weapons have met their match. 

The roughly two and a half feet, five pound missile interceptor is the definition of think big, get small.

Lockheed Martin engineers infused game-changing capabilities by using technologies ranging from mobile phones to medical diagnostics to shrink our most powerful and combat-proven Hit-to-Kill technology. 

HIT-TO-KILL TECHNOLOGY

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So, what does “Hit-to-Kill” mean?

Hit-to-Kill is akin to stopping a bullet with a bullet in the air; the impact of two objects takes place with such force that the threat is destroyed without using an explosive device. This reduces unintended damage in the area around the target, protecting troops on the ground and other friendly forces.

The technology behind Hit-to-Kill technology is an onboard radar seeker. And as the name denotes, the seeker:

  • Searches for a threat
  • Provides accurate location for an intercept, and
  • Measures critical target information.

The missile’s guidance system uses this data to pinpoint the place on the target to knock it out of the sky. It’s one thing to hit an incoming threat, it’s another to hit the most vulnerable part. 

“MHTK will enhance the ability of maneuver forces, providing the tactical defensive capability to defeat rocket and mortar attacks and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs),” said Mike Oates, vice president of Business Development for Integrated Air and Missile Defense. “This extremely unique technology leverages existing combat-proven systems and provides a mobile, organic self-protection capability to the Brigade Combat Team and critical infrastructure.”

THINKING BIG, BUT BUILDING SMALL

To shrink the technology behind a missile, Lockheed Martin looked outside the defense industry for inspiration. The company modeled technology know-how from the packaging and big data industries to design a small interceptor with the same strength as large missiles.

“We applied the core principles of Hit-To-Kill capability, seeker accuracy and missile agility, to a new class of problem,” said Tim Cahill, Vice President of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin. “We achieved miniaturization through the use of photonics, leveraging medical imaging technologies and mobile phone industry techniques combined with state-of-the-art electronics packaging.”


“We applied the core principles of Hit-To-Kill capability, seeker accuracy and missile agility, to a new class of problem...”

 


MHTK is the smallest Hit-to-Kill interceptor missile to be integrated with a missile launcher, and therefore, allows for the maximum number of missiles to be placed in a launcher tube. With a multiple missile pack designed to fit in a single launcher tube, warfighters will be spending less time reloading more missiles. This is a critical capability as close-range combat often requires quickly combating multiple incoming threats at one time. 

MAJOR IMPACT

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Historically, RAM threats were the second largest cause of casualties on the battlefield. When RAM attacks occurred, ground forces’ only options were to take shelter or flee the area.

And during recent conflicts, threats – costing less than your average television – caused massive collateral damage and accounted for the second highest number of ground casualties.

“From a commander’s perspective, there is no mobile counter-RAM system currently available to protect maneuver forces from this deadly threat,” said Oates. “Mortars specifically remain one of the most prolific enemy threats to ground forces and this new missile will provide a commander the ability to protect his force wherever they operate.”


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