According to a statement released by the United States Marine Corps, the United States Marine Corps Medium Range Interceptor Capability (MRIC) prototype successfully hit several representative targets of simultaneously launched cruise missiles during the live-fire test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. on June 30, 2022. The MRIC prototype uses components from the Israeli manufacturer an iron dome missile defense system.
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An AN/TPS-80 ground-to-air task-oriented radar starts up at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC TPS-80 will replace the AN/TPS-63 and reduce setup time from eight hours to 30 minutes for the system. Marine Air Control Squadron 2 received the first G/ATOR issued to the Fleet Marine Force following testing to improve the squadron’s expeditionary readiness and capabilities. (Image source US DoD)
The MRIC (Medium Range Intercept Capability) which counts the Corps’ Task-Oriented Land/Air Radar and the Joint Aviation Command and Control System among its major subsystems, also incorporates Israel’s proven technology . an iron dome system. The live-fire test was designed to validate major subsystem integrations and the overall system’s ability to provide critical information to senior Marine Corps leaders when deciding the way forward for the MRIC prototype.
During the test, the G/ATOR successfully tracked each target immediately after launch and ran tracks through the CAC2S to the Israeli Iron Dome components. This allowed the MRIC system to simultaneously neutralize multiple missiles circling the system from different angles. At its peak, numerous airborne targets, each with its own flight path and speed, surrounded the MRIC prototype. When firing, MRIC managed to hit every target using the Tamir missile.
The June event built on the previous live-fire test in December, in which the program office launched multiple targets in sequence, with the MRIC intercepting each target before the next was launched. This time, several targets were launched simultaneously. Prior to the event, Kelley said engineers at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren conducted independent simulations of what would happen during the live-fire test. The results, Kelley said, correlated closely with the modeled simulations.
Maj James Slocum, MRIC Medium-Range Interception Capability Team Leader at PEO Land Systems, has worked on the program since its inception in 2018. A few months prior, the Marine Corps established a [Urgent Statement of Need] to begin prototyping a counter-cruise missile capability to fill the integrated air missile defense void he identified.
“The Marine Corps and the Department of Defense as a whole have lived with the comforts of air superiority and air supremacy,” Slocum said. “As long-range cruise missiles and anti-aircraft weapon systems begin to improve, air supremacy is not something we can take for granted. We need to be able to counter these types of abilities.
Slocum said the intent behind the program was to take proven components and integrate a system compatible with the Marine Corps architecture, using mid-level acquisition authorities, to rapidly develop and demonstrate relevant ability.
“Our goal was to get this prototype into a deployable state that meets our current needs, but to have it so that other systems could be ‘plugged into’ it to make it more deadly while maintaining expeditionary capability, mobility and the ability to quickly set up and be operational at any site, at any time,” Slocum said.
The program office has scheduled another live-fire test for the system later this year with further increased threat capability, Kelley said. After the final live-fire event, Marine Corps leadership will decide the future of the program, including which Marines will ultimately use the system and the training required to operate the newest capability.
“It’s been a team sport between government, industry and our allies,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Clingan, deputy deputy commandant of Combat Development and Integration and deputy commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, after the event. “The fact that we’re having a discussion about the training pipeline instead of the system itself speaks to the capability of the system.”