|MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS||May 13, 1999|
The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Army will conduct in mid-summer an intercept flight test of a Patriot Advance Capability (PAC-3) missile at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), N.M. A launch had been scheduled for this week but was delayed because of the potential threat of forest fires due to extreme drought conditions in the target debris zone.
The debris zone is partially located in the Cibola National Forest, which is experiencing one of the most serious drought seasons on record. The weather situation is not expected to improve until there is significant rain, which historically begins mid- to late July.
The PAC-3 missile system and Hera target are at the launch site and mission-ready. The intercept flight test will be rescheduled when current weather conditions improve and the fire safety concern is not an issue.
This situation does not affect the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) flight test scheduled for later this month. The Hera target configuration used in support of the THAAD mission is unitary, unlike that for the PAC-3 mission. The THAAD flight takes place totally on WSMR controlled property.
The PAC-3 Missile is a high velocity, hit-to-kill missile and is the next generation Patriot missile being developed to provide increased capability against advanced tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and hostile aircraft.
To date, the PAC-3 missile has successfully completed three missions. The first two missions were development tests consisting of missiles with special instrumentation packages in place of the seeker. Those missions were structured to verify critical systems and missile performance prior to beginning the target intercept flight tests. A seeker characterization flight mission was flown March 15, 1999, to test a PAC-3 missile with a seeker. Although not a primary objective of the test, the PAC-3 missile successfully intercepted the Hera target.
Lockheed Martin Vought Systems, Dallas, Texas, is the prime contractor for the PAC-3 missile. The seeker is produced by Boeing North America, Duluth, Ga. Raytheon Co. is the system integrator for the PAC-3 missile.