The PAC-3 MSE is Lockheed Martin's latest upgrade to the PAC-3 missile, and it incorporates a larger, dual pulse solid rocket motor and larger fins. Credit: Army Technology.

The US Army is throwing a huge amount of money at a big problem — Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons, in the hopes they can be stopped.

As they say in street parlance: Good luck with that. The task may be daunting, but certainly rewarding.

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced last week that it has received a whopping US$6.07 billion windfall contract from the US Army to produce the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors.

The company will also provide incidental services, hardware, facilities, equipment and all technical, manufacturing and testing efforts, missile segment enhancement configuration and associated equipment to support the effort, Peter Suciu of The National Interest reported.

“This contract demonstrates our customer’s continued confidence in our ability to deliver unmatched Hit-to-Kill technology that defeats the ever-expanding global threats of today and tomorrow,” said a tough talking Scott Arnold, vice-president for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Integrated Air & Missile Defense.

“PAC-3 MSE is one of the most capable multi-mission interceptors, enabling our customers to defend against advanced tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft,” he added.

The PAC-3 MSE is Lockheed Martin’s latest upgrade to the PAC-3 missile, and it incorporates a larger, dual pulse solid rocket motor and larger fins; as well as upgraded actuators and thermal batteries to provide increased performance and extend the missile’s reach, The National Interest reported.

The missile will also retain the PAC-3 Hit-To-Kill technology. 

According to DefPost.com, shortly before arrival at the intercept point, the PAC-3 Missile’s on board Ka band seeker acquires the target, selects the optimal aim point and terminal guidance is initiated.

The attitude control motors (ACMs), which are small, short duration solid propellant rocket motors located in the missile forebody, fire explosively to refine the missile’s course to assure body-to-body impact.

The PAC-3 MSE is packaged in a single canister that stacks to provide logistical flexibility, while twelve individual missiles can be loaded on a Patriot Launcher or a combination of six MSEs and eight PAC-3 Missiles (two four packs).

To meet customer demand, as well as to increase production capacity, Lockheed Martin is currently building an 85,000-square-foot expansion at its Camden, Arkansas, facility where the PAC-3 MSE interceptor missiles will be assembled, The National Interest reported.

Last month Lockheed Martin was also awarded a US$818 million contract with the United States Air Force to produce 790 more Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM), a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precisions standoff missile.

The 2,000-pound class weapon features a penetrator/blast fragmentation warhead, and employs precision routing and guidance in adverse weather, day or night, The National Interest reported.

Meanwhile, Defense News reports that several new customers abroad have joined the ranks of Patriot air and missile customers to include Japan, Qatar, Poland, Germany, Bahrain, Romania and Sweden.

The reason for such an explosion in PAC-3 MSE buys is due to the proliferating threat both in the Middle East and in Europe as the US and its allies remain embroiled in conflict in the Gulf region, and as European countries work to build up robust air defenses to deter Russia.

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