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More Flight Tests Ahead for C-RAM Killer
FORT WORTH and HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Lockheed Martin is refining its modes for a new missile designed to counter rockets, artillery and mortars after a successful flight test in May.
The Extended Area Protection and Survivability (EAPS) program began as a science and technology effort funded by the U.S. Army in 2008; Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are crafting competing missile designs to address the counter rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) problem experienced in Iraq and continuing daily in Afghanistan.
Though Army officials pressed a ground-based Phalanx gun into service for C-RAM, the service is exploring a variety of next-generation options, including missiles, guided gun rounds and directed-energy systems.
Army officials hope to keep the missile cost below $20,000, as a high-cost solution would be disproportionate to the price of the offensive systems.
Lockheed Martin conducted its first test flight of its 5-lb. all-up round, controlled test vehicle EAPS missile design on May 26. The weapon was launched vertically out of a launcher developed for the defunct Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon program against a simulated target, says Jonathan Crawford, an international business development analyst for Lockheed Martin.
The purpose of the test was to demonstrate vertical launch and validate the transition to flight and durability of internal components. Each of these goals was met, says Chris Murphy, business development director for Lockheed Martin's EAPS program.
Lockheed and Northrop's designs take vastly different approaches to solving the C-RAM problem. Lockheed is opting to build off of its PAC-3 and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense work to develop a small hit-to-kill interceptor for EAPS. The result is a 27-in.-long weapon employing a Norwegian Nammo Talley rocket motor and semi-active, high-frequency, radio-frequency seeker.
By contrast, Northrop Grumman is pursuing a blast-fragmentation weapon, driving its overall missile size to be larger.
Murphy says that in doing its cost-benefit analyses, Lockheed Martin engineers concluded that using a blast-fragmentation warhead for such a small, fast-moving target as a rocket would require guiding the interceptor in very close to it. "If you are going to get that close, you might as well hit the darn thing," he says.
Eliminating the need for a blast-fragmentation warhead also allowed engineers to reduce the missile's diameter to about 1.5 in.
During development, since 2008, Murphy says that Lockheed Martin pulled technologies from the medical imaging community and cellular phone industry for its seeker. Achieving the high accuracy needed to intercept a rocket or mortar in flight was among the highest risk areas for the program, he says.
However, the company designed its EAPS missile with producibility foremost in its planning; and the technologies used will be ready for a proper procurement at the end of the effort in fiscal 2015.
Intercept tests against actual C-RAM targets are slated by year's end, Crawford says.
Credit: Lockheed Martin