REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center successfully launched three modular open systems architecture test missiles Sept. 21 at the Redstone Test Center here.

AMRDEC designed and developed the test missiles under the Modular Missile Technologies Project. The test missiles were launched from a fixed stand and followed the expected ballistic flight paths. The tests proved the performance of the low-cost composite rocket motor case and the ability of the missile guidance electronics to function during flight.

The tests were the first in a planned series of flight tests of MMT's 70-mm diameter missile family (dubbed MMT-70). The MMT-70 family consists of a rocket-propelled forward firing variant weighing about 25 pounds and a drop/glide variant weighing about 10 pounds.

The nearest-term warfighter applications for MMT are small guided munitions for Army aviation helicopters and unmanned aerial systems, according to Christopher Lofts, capability area lead, aviation missiles, in AMRDEC's System Simulation and Development Directorate.

"The intent is to give Army aviators a lighter weight missile for addressing the majority of their threats at longer ranges. The initial variants will have an air-to-surface capability and planning is underway to add an air-to-air capability as a follow-on for the forward firing variant," he said. "Although the initial application for the MMT-70 family is the air-launched role these three ground launch tests demonstrated that the rocket-propelled variant can be used in a surface-launched role as well.

"The most unique feature of the MMT-70 family is its modular open systems architecture which was designed for low-cost development and rapid modification of guided missiles," Lofts said. "The modular open systems architecture design approach allows the two basic variants to share common subsystems and software."

Lofts said the two MMT-70 variants use the same seeker, warhead, control fin section and guidance electronics unit. These subsystems all have identical mechanical and electrical interfaces that allow them to be stacked in any necessary order. A solid rocket motor is added to the stack to form the forward firing variant.

The drop/glide variant is built up by rearranging the order of the stack and adding a glide kit instead of a rocket motor. The software has also been architected in a manner that permits new subsystems (for example, a heavier warhead or completely different seeker) to be bolted on without having to rewrite software in the other subsystems.

"MMT's modular open systems architecture is highly adaptable, and it is this adaptability that reduces development time and allows rapid evolution of the system at drastically-reduced cost," Lofts said. "This allows the missile system to evolve faster than the threat can change."

Flight tests will continue the next few years, with plans to transition the MMT-70 to a project office for further development.

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The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.