On a bullet with a bullet: New defensive missiles could prevent close range attacks

The Miniature Hit-To-Kill Missile leaves the launch unit during a test firing. (Lockheed Martin)

Threats to the United States is evolving daily and the technology is getting significantly more advanced.

A new rocket in development, which was recently tested in the countryside of New Mexico takes the technology of THAAD (Thermal High Altitude Area Defense), which can knock an intercontinental ballistic missile from the air, and put it in a five-pound, two-and-a-half foot projectile.

“It is a very advanced technology, very complicated rocket science. It’s like a bullet with a bullet,” said Michaela Dodge, a missile defense expert for the Heritage Foundation. “But we can do it and it is great news for us.”


The system is called the Miniature Hit to Kill Missile (MHTK), and it is being developed by Lockheed Martin. The rocket travels twice as fast as the sound when it zooms in on the incoming threats and destroys them with kinetic energy. It focuses on the incoming projectiles with the help of a radar system, and continuously adjusts the rate during the flight.

The Miniature Hit-to-Kill Rocket during a test flight, seen through the lens of a slow motion camera. The rocket can travel twice the speed of sound. (Lockheed Martin)

“We create a body-to-body contact,” said Chris Murphy, Lockheed Martin’s head of business development for the MHTK. “Instead of getting close and making a big explosion, what we do is actually the nose of our missiles hit the part of the incoming round that we want to hit.”

When the MHTK makes impact with the incoming round, it ensures that the threat to explode.

But in contrast to THAAD, which can destroy missiles carrying nuclear warheads, the MHTK is designed to destroy mortars, rockets, artillery and Unmanned aerial vehicles.

“The Army of the V. S. and international customers have made it clear that the current global security environment demands agile, close-range solutions,” said Tim Cahill, vice-president of the Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

The MHTK is designed for the defense, and Murphy said not be used to enemy targets.

“The idea is to provide protection of a large area of a launcher or two launchers that can reach and defeat the incoming rounds before they are somewhere in the neighborhood of our soldiers,” he explained.

Murphy pointed out that a mortar the size of a two-liter bottle of soda can injure or kill a soldier if it hits within a hundred yards.

“The whole rocket stays together, and the whole rocket what’s the lethality or the impact on the incoming round,” he said.

Lockheed Martin hopes that the rocket will compete for a contract to be integrated in a larger missile defense system. The MHTK does not yet have a price.

Ray Bogan is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in El Paso, Texas. Follow him on twitter: @RayBogan


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