America's Patriot Missiles Are a Real Threat to North Korea
September 10, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: North KoreaPatriot MissileMissile DefenseMissileSouth KoreaMissiles

America's Patriot Missiles Are a Real Threat to North Korea

How so?

Rasch said the upgraded Patriot also includes the latest engineering for a phased array tracking radar intercept on the PATRIOT Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) - also known as PAC-3 MSE.

The Army recently completed another operational test of its upgraded PATRIOT missile, engineered with next-generation radar, electronics, software and fire control technology to enable the weapon to destroy a wider range of enemy attacks, service leaders said.

"This enables us to reach higher altitudes and increase range," Brig. Gen. Robert Rasch, Deputy Program Executive Officer, Missiles and Space, told Warrior in an interview.

While the Army has of course been upgrading its Patriot missile for quite some time, the enhanced target range and accuracy of these most recent versions seem quite relevant to a pressing need to bolster South Korean ballistic missile defenses in light of the threat of attack from North Korea.

(This first appeared in November 2017.)

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The recent test marked the latest development in a series of radar and targeting upgrades to the Patriot missile designed to increase the range of threats it can destroy -- to include more of drones, rotary wing aircraft, cruise missiles, extended range tactical ballistic missiles and high-speed aircraft. Army efforts to upgrade the radar, fire control technology and flight software for the PATRIOT missile  are, among other things, designed to sharpen its target tracking ability against approaching enemy attacks.

"Our Patriot modernization effort reduces the size of the hardware on the weapon and gets the latest RAM, faster processing speed, smaller motherboards and improved command and control," Rasch said.

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The upgrade includes the addition of new technology designed to keep pace with fast-emerging threats well above and beyond the tactical ballistic missiles for which the weapon was initially designed, developers explained.

Rasch said the upgraded Patriot also includes the latest engineering for a phased array tracking radar intercept on the PATRIOT Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) - also known as PAC-3 MSE.

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“The PAC-3 MSE program includes flight software, flight testing, modification and qualification of subsystems, production planning and tooling, and support for full Patriot system integration,” a Lockheed statement said.

Over the last several years, the Army’s Patriot missile destroyed a mock-enemy theater ballistic missile target in test-firing in order to demonstrate new guidance technology built into the weapon, Army officials said.

The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 is an advanced kinetic energy hit-to-kill interceptor surface-to-air missile designed to knock out incoming threats and protect ground forces, buildings and other assets.  As a kinetic energy interceptor, the weapon relies upon the sheer force of impact to destroy approaching enemy attacks and does not need to use explosives – thus the “hit-to-kill” description.

The Patriot can be used for close-in threat approaching targets such as drones, cruise missiles and even enemy aircraft. At the same time, the missile can destroy longer-range theater ballistic missile targets as well, Army officials have explained.

The missile system also functions in tandem with the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense, THAAD, system to provide the U.S. with a “multi-tier theater defense,” Rasch explained, adding that this integration has taken place in South Korea.

To intercept an incoming missile, the PATRIOT steers towards a predetermined intercept point chosen by its ground-based fire solution computer, selects the proper trajectory, and then applies a direct, body-to-body hit on the target.

In service since the early 80s, PATRIOT missiles have been upgraded several times, including this latest MSE software improvement. Recent tests have been designed to asses an even newer target-tracking technology called Post Deployment Build, or PDB-8, service officials explained.

“PDB - 8 software is a major software build that provides improved capability against the evolving threat and is fully compatible with the IBCS (Integrated Battle Command System). The air and missile defense threat continues to progress and proliferate, and the Patriot system is continually evolving to deliver threat-paced capabilities in the current and persistently-changing threat environment,” Dan O’Boyle, spokesman for Program Executive Office, Missiles and Space, told Scout Warrior in a written statement last year.

The PAC-3, which is deployed in military theaters around the world, is a lower-tier, hit-to-kill missile and member of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. It features a solid propellant rocket motor, aerodynamic controls, attitude control motors and inertial navigation.

During previous tests, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., the PATRIOT used its Active Electronically Scanned Array to track data, detect and engage the target.

The Patriot is now in service with at least 13 countries around the globe, including five NATO countries. Up to 16 PAC-3 missiles can be loaded up into a launcher for increased firepower and defensive capabilities. Also, the weapon is highly mobile and can be fired from an Army Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, or HEMTT.

Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing are all associated with Patriot missile development, technology and production.

This first appeared in Scout Warrior here.

Image: DVIDShub.

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