U.S. and Dutch officials recently formalized an agreement for the Royal Netherlands Army to purchase Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors and related support equipment. With the signing, the Netherlands becomes the 12th customer of PAC-3 MSE and advances its missile defense technology from the PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) the country acquired in 2004. An evolution of the battle-proven PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI), the PAC-3 MSE boasts a dual-pulse solid rocket motor, providing increased performance in altitude and range to defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.
“We’re honored to continue to partner with the Netherlands, our first PAC-3 international customer, for their missile defense capabilities,” said Brenda Davidson, vice president of PAC-3 Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “PAC-3 MSE is known around the world for its reliability and performance using Hit-to-Kill technology to ensure our customers remain ready to defend in 21st century warfare.”
The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the primary of its kind used by the United States Army and several allied nations. It is manufactured by the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon and derives its name from the radar component of the weapon system. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target” which is a backronym for PATRIOT. On July 13 2019, the Royal Netherlands Army received its first shipment of recapitalized Patriot fire units from the United States. Under the $105 million sale, the U.S. Army is replacing the radars, launch systems, and fire control units for four Patriot systems.
The Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) upgrade carried with it a new missile design, nominally known as MIM-104F and called PAC-3 by the Army. The PAC-3 missile evolved from the Strategic Defense Initiative’s ERINT missile, and so it is dedicated almost entirely to the anti-ballistic missile mission. Due to miniaturization, a single canister can hold four PAC-3 missiles (as opposed to one PAC-2 missile per canister). The PAC-3 missile is also more maneuverable than previous variants, due to 180 tiny pulse solid propellant rocket motors mounted in the forebody of the missile (called Attitude Control Motors, or ACMs) which serve to fine align the missile trajectory with its target to achieve hit-to-kill capability.