Threats to the United States are evolving everyday and the technology is getting significantly more advanced.
A new missile in development that was recently tested in rural New Mexico takes the technology of THAAD (Thermal High Altitude Area Defense), which can knock an intercontinental ballistic missile out of the sky, and puts it into a five pound, two-and-a-half foot projectile.
“It’s a very advanced technology, very complicated rocket science. It’s like hitting a bullet with a bullet,” said Michaela Dodge, a missile defense specialist for the Heritage Foundation. “But we can do it and it’s great news for us.”
The system is called the Miniature Hit to Kill Missile (MHTK), and it's being developed by Lockheed Martin. The missile travels twice as fast as sound as it hones in on incoming threats and destroys them with kinetic energy. It targets the incoming projectile using a radar system, and continuously adjusts its course in flight.
“We’re making body-to-body contact,” said Chris Murphy, Lockheed Martin’s head of business development for the MHTK. “Instead of getting close to it and making a big explosion, what we do is actually, the nose of our missile hits the part of the incoming round that we want to hit.”
When the MHTK makes impact with the incoming round, it causes the threat to explode.
But unlike THAAD, which can destroy missiles carrying nuclear warheads, the MHTK is designed to destroy mortars, rockets, artillery and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
"The U.S. Army and international customers have made it clear today's global security environment demands agile, close-range solutions,” said Tim Cahill, vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
The MHTK is designed for defense, and Murphy said won’t be used to take out enemy targets.
“The idea is to provide protection from a large area from a launcher or two launchers that can reach out and defeat the incoming rounds before they get anywhere close to 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 one hundred yards.
“The entire missile stays together, and the entire missile is what delivers the lethality or the impact to the incoming round,” he said.
Lockheed Martin hopes the missile will compete for a government contract to be integrated into a larger missile defense system. The MHTK does not yet have a price.