At 5 pounds in weight and less than 2.5 feet in length, the MHTK interceptor carries no warhead. Image credit: Lockheed Martin.At 5 pounds in weight and less than 2.5 feet in length, the MHTK interceptor carries no warhead. Image credit: Lockheed Martin.Lockheed Martin’s Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor has been launched in a demonstration at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. According to the company, the flight demonstrated the capability required to defeat rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) targets and created less collateral damage than other interceptor systems.

At 5 pounds in weight and less than 2.5 feet in length, the MHTK interceptor carries no warhead. The missile uses hit-to-kill technology, which destroys threats through kinetic energy in body-to-body contact.

Lockheed says that older missile defense systems do not have the sensing or agility components required to intercept a threat head-on. Instead, they rely on proximity fragmentation. In that approach, an interceptor gets close to its target and detonates itself in an effort to disable or deflect the threat. Lockheed says the technology is not as accurate and can result in debris fallout.

Missile defense via MHTK begins with threat detection by a ground-based defense system and estimation of the interception point, followed by launch of the interceptor. Once it is near the threat, the interceptor’s onboard radar seeker searches for and locates the incoming RAM target. To achieve body-to-body impact, the onboard radar seeker pinpoints where to aim on the target’s body.

As the missile intercepts the threat, it destroys the target through direct impact, akin to a bullet hitting a bullet in mid-air. According to Lockheed Martin, the high kinetic energy created by the impact helps protect from the collateral damage seen in traditional blast-fragmentation interceptors.

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