Raytheon has tested a hot fire rocket motor for the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) naval vessel defence system designed to tackle anti-ship missiles.

The new rocket motor is meant for DARPA’s Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System (MAD-FIRES).

The MAD-FIRES interceptor will be able to provide a self-defence capability to enable the US Navy to protect its vessels from threats such as unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles, small planes, fast attack craft, and other surface vessels.

Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice-president Dr Thomas Bussing said: “The navy is asking for leading-edge capabilities that can take out rapidly approaching targets, and Raytheon’s interceptor for the MAD-FIRES programme will deliver.

“This test shows Raytheon is right on track to provide an affordable, advanced technology to the fleet.”

“This test shows Raytheon is right on track to provide an affordable, advanced technology to the fleet.”

Raytheon stated that that the naval vessel defence system will have the ability to bring together the speed, rapid fire and depth of a gun weapon system with the precision and accuracy of guided missiles.

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The MAD-FIRES programme intends to incorporate enhanced ammunition rounds that can change their flight path in real-time to stay on target, according to DARPA.

DARPA said that there is also ‘a capacity to continuously target, track and engage multiple fast-approaching targets simultaneously and re-engage any targets that survive initial engagement’.

The system is envisioned to provide real-time defence against evolving air and surface combat threats by extreme precision and an ability to defend against simultaneous and diverse attacks.

Raytheon won a modification contract in April last year to a previously awarded contract to add the Phase IIB/IIC tasks for the MAD-FIRES programme.

The new MAD-FIRES system is likely to rival current naval air defence systems in development, including Rosonboronexport’s Pantsir-M and the Phalanx close-in weapon system manufactured by General Dynamics.