Military Knowledge: MIM-104F PAC-3 MSE missile
The PAC-3 MSE missile is the latest missile produced by Raytheon for the Patriot defense system and its main mission is to hunt ballistic and cruise targets.
The PAC-3 MSE missile with a length of 2.5 meters and a weight of 312 kg has a range of 40 km and a maximum altitude of 20 km, and due to its small size, it can install 16 of these missiles on the Patriot launcher.
The seeker of this missile is based on active radar homing, which receive the target coordinates by AN/MPQ65 radar and the navigation is based on the missile’s own radar. This reduces the volume of calculations and removes the limit on the number of conflicting targets in the system at the same time.
The radar of the PAC-3 has increased detection and tracking ranges. It also has improved discrimination abilities. The radar can discriminate whether or not the aircraft is manned, or which of multiple re-entering ballistic objects are carrying ordnance. Also the software of the PAC-3 ensures that ballistic missiles with chemical warheads or with early release submunitions are destroyed at a certain altitude.
However, the use of active radar guidance has increased the cost of missile, with each PAC-3 MSE missile costing more than $ 9 million for US partners and about $ 5 million for the US military.
The missile has a small High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) warhead to enhance the kill probability, however it may be not enough for engaging with heavy aircraft targets such as warplanes and bombers. So for this reason, this missile is used in combination with the PAC-2 missile in the Patriot system.
The target hunting mechanism in the PAC-3 missile is based on Hit-To-Kill. In this method, kinetic energy is the main factor in destroying the target, but in order to increase the destruction and self-destructive ability, there is also a small warhead of high explosive fragmentation type in this missile.
MIM-104F PAC-3 missile specifications:
Range: 40 km
Maximum (engage) altitude: 20 km
Missile length: 2.5 meters
Missile weight: 320 kg