The Patriot™ Missile Defense System is a land-based, mobile guided missile system fielded by the U.S. Army and currently deployed around the world.
The Patriot missile has been upgraded continually since it was first deployed in 1982, and variations include the Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2), Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical (GEM-T), PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) and PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles.
The upgraded PAC-2 missile, originally used during the Gulf War, was a U.S. Army one-stage, solid-fuel, ground-launched interceptor designed to destroy tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, or aircraft with a conventional high-explosive blast fragmentation warhead.
The Patriot GEM-T variant of the PAC-2 allowed the interceptor to detect low radar signature targets more effectively and have better detonation near ballistic missiles.
The PAC-3 CRI variant increased interceptor effectiveness by employing hit-to-kill technology versus conventional blast fragmentation. The PAC-3 MSE provided further performance enhancements with greater speed and maneuverability with a larger dual-pulse solid rocket motor and larger tail fins. The PAC-3 MSE missile is the primary interceptor for the German next-generation air and missile defense system, Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS).
Powering the PAC-3 MSE Infographic. Click to enlarge.
Combat proven during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the PAC-3 missile is a mobile, high-velocity interceptor with long-range, medium to high-altitude, all-weather capabilities that uses hit-to-kill technology to intercept a variety of incoming threats, such as tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.
PAC-3 family of interceptors provide tactical air and missile defense capabilities as part of the country’s missile defense architecture. In addition to their solid propellant rocket motors, the PAC-3 family of missiles are equipped with aerodynamic controls and inertial navigation guidance systems.
In the 1990’s Aerojet Rocketdyne first began providing the solid propulsion for ERINT (Extended Range Interceptor) which later became known as PAC-3. Today’s PAC-3 missiles are typically deployed in a Patriot M903 launcher which accommodates 16 PAC-3 or 12 PAC-3 MSE missiles.
Since 2000, Aerojet Rocketdyne has produced the PAC-3 CRI solid rocket motor, and since 2004 the small, short-duration solid propellant Attitude Control Motors (ACMs) for PAC-3 missile variants at its facility in Camden, Arkansas.
Each PAC-3 CRI interceptor contains 180 ACMs. The solid motors fire explosively to refine the missile's course and ensure body-to-body impact.
In January 2017, Aerojet Rocketdyne delivered its 2,500th PAC-3 CRI rocket motor and 500,000th PAC-3 ACM to customer Lockheed Martin.
Aerojet Rocketdyne also produces the PAC-3 MSE propulsion system, a larger, advanced two-pulse solid rocket motor and the Lethality Enhancer (LE) for the upgraded PAC-3 MSE missile.
- Powering the PAC-3 MSE Infographic
- Various photos and videos attributed to Lockheed Martin: https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/patriot-advanced-capability-3.html
- Various photos and videos attributed to Missile Defense Agency: https://www.mda.mil/system/pac_3.html#
- PAC-2 Photos: https://www.mda.mil/news/gallery_pac2.html
- February 27, 2023 - Aerojet Rocketdyne Delivers 830,000th Attitude Control Motor for Patriot Missile as Investments Enable 40% Increase in Production
- August 9, 2022 - New Aerojet Rocketdyne Facility Consolidates Solid Rocket Motor Manufacturing to Increase Efficiency and Capacity
- May 20, 2021 - Aerojet Rocketdyne Delivers 1,000th Propulsion System for Multi-Mission PAC-3 MSE Missile
- Jan. 16, 2017 - Aerojet Rocketdyne Delivers 2,500th PAC-3 CRI Missile and 500,000th PAC-3 ACM
- March 17, 2016 - Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Supports Advanced PAC 3 Missile Intercept Flight Test for U.S. Army
- April 13, 2010 - Aerojet Solid Rocket Motor Propels Successful PAC-3 MSE Flight Test Intercept
- May 28, 2008 - Aerojet Solid Rocket Motor Propels Successful PAC-3 MSE Missile Flight Test