US: Raytheon Company and the US Army achieved the first intercept of a cruise missile by the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative missile. An AI3 missile also destroyed an unmanned aerial system (UAS). Fired from the Avenger launcher, AI3 missiles intercepted both targets at low altitude over water and in a high-clutter marine environment – capabilities made possible by upgrades to the missile's semi-active seeker and radar. The ability to defeat UAS and cruise missile threats is the key requirement of the US Army's Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) Block 1. IFPC is a mobile, ground-based weapon system designed to acquire, track, engage and defeat UAS, cruise missiles, rockets, artillery and mortars. "Raytheon's AI3 missile is breaking new ground with its destruction of these challenging targets that are real threats to today's warfighter. We've developed a missile that integrates easily into the Army's existing systems. It's affordable, the risk is low and we can get it in the field soon,” said Dr Thomas R Bussing, Vice President, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems.
Earlier this year, in preparation for the Black Dart event, AI3 missiles destroyed a 240 mm rocket and a UAS at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. "Black Dart was the ideal venue for us to demonstrate AI3's expanded capabilities and to showcase the missile as a low-cost, complimentary interceptor for IFPC Block 1," added Bussing.