Raytheon has been contracted by the United States Army to work on new military technology capable of detecting and destroying inbound aerial threats, predominantly rockets.
The $79.2 million contract will see the US defence contractor tasked with developing the AI3 (Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative) system, which will be ready for demonstration purposes in around September 2013 and, after that, be put into an initial production phase.
In a press release announcing the award of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative contract, Raytheon Missile Systems' Vice President of Advanced Missiles and Unmanned Systems, Doctor Thomas R. Bussing, explained the reasoning behind the technology's inception. "Rocket attacks have cost many US and allied warfighters their lives, which is why Raytheon is committed to getting this system developed and fielded as soon as possible", he said, adding: "Our goal is to save soldiers' lives."
Raytheon Counter-Rocket System
Specifically, Raytheon will work on the A13 interceptor element of this counter-rocket system and be responsible for integrating its other components - including the command and control, fire control and launch elements - into a single deployable and mission-capable unit.
"By making extensive use of existing technology and weapon systems, Raytheon will keep down both cost and risk", Raytheon Missile Systems' Advanced Army Systems Director, Rodger Elkins, stated. "Our experience in developing missiles, combined with our expertise as a mission systems integrator, will help us provide the Army with an affordable, effective weapon system capability."
Raytheon: Warfighter Protection
With its C-RAM product, Raytheon already has extensive experience of developing warfighter protection systems of this kind but the AI3 is set to be more specialised. While C-RAM defends against rockets, mortar and artillery, the A13 will specialise in the counter-rocket role.
According to another Raytheon representative, elements of both the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile and the Small Diameter Bomb II will be draw on in support of the AI3 development programme.
Armed Forces International will revisit the AI3 programme at a later stage in its development.
Image copyright USAF - used solely for representational purposes