Raytheon Company announced on 6 May that it has successfully tested a hot fire rocket motor for DARPA’s Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System, or MAD-FIRES.
The MAD-FIRES interceptor is designed to provide a robust and affordable self-defense capability that defeats multiple waves of anti-ship missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as other threats.
“The Navy is asking for leading-edge capabilities that can take out rapidly approaching targets, and Raytheon’s interceptor for the MAD-FIRES program will deliver,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. “This test shows Raytheon is right on track to provide an affordable, advanced technology to the fleet.”
If fielded, this capability will combine the speed, rapid fire and depth of a gun weapon system with the precision and accuracy of guided missiles.
According to the DARPA’s statement, attacks by unmanned vehicles, missiles, small planes, fast in-shore attack craft and other platforms pose a perennial, evolving and potentially lethal threat to ships and other maritime vessels. The escalating risks posed by these ever-morphing threats demand that vessels have access to defensive capabilities at the leading edge of air and surface combat technologies. In particular, current close-range gun systems would greatly benefit from an ability to engage multiple and diverse targets coming from a range of directions and do so rapidly and with high precision.
To help meet these needs and greatly enhance maritime vessels’ survivability in contested environments, DARPA has created the Multi-Azimuth Defense—Fast Intercept Round Engagement System (MAD-FIRES) program. The goal of the program is to design and develop technologies associated with a medium-caliber guided projectile that would combine the guidance, precision and accuracy generally afforded by missiles with the speed, rapid-fire capability and large ammunition capacity afforded by bullets.
MAD-FIRES aims to advance the state-of-the-art in defensive gun systems by creating a new, low-cost technological foundation for guided, gun-launched projectiles. Specifically, MAD-FIRES aims to incorporate enhanced ammunition rounds able to alter their flight path in real time to stay on target, and a capacity to continuously target, track and engage multiple fast-approaching targets simultaneously and re-engage any targets that survive initial engagement.