A U.S. system that integrates existing missile and
radar assets has succeeded in intercepting a
simulated cruise missile similar to ones obtained by Iran from China.
The Complementary Low Altitude Weapon System, or CLAWS, was said to have
successfully intercepted a BQM-74 surrogate cruise missile target through
the integration of assets common to a range of U.S. allies in the Middle
East. The cruise missile target, flying at low altitude, was intercepted
during a test this week at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
In 2003, the U.S. PAC-2 and PAC-3 missile defense systems failed to
intercept Iraqi cruise missiles fired toward Kuwait during the war against
Saddam Hussein, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said U.S. troops in Iraq could be vulnerable to
cruise missiles fired by neighboring Iran, which has procured such weapons
Officials said all mission objectives were met in the interception of
the BMQ-74 by a U.S.-origin air-to-air missile. The missile defense system
has been integrated by Raytheon.
"This test harnessed the elements of the CLAWS Family of Systems and
demonstrated a capable, working architecture that will give us an advantage
on the battlefield," Maj. Steve Grass, project lead of the U.S. Marine Corps
Systems Command, said. "We are looking forward to taking the next step."
Officials identified the interceptor used in the White Sands test as the
AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, AMRAAM. They said other
assets in the system included the TPS-59 radar and AN/TYQ-23 Tactical Air
Several Middle East air forces have procured the AIM-120, including
Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Egypt and Jordan have
also requested the advanced air-to-air missile, with Cairo seeking to deploy
the AMRAAM on a ground vehicle for anti-aircraft missions.
The successful White Sands test, announced on Oct. 6, demonstrated what
officials described as the system's kill-chain. They said the cruise target
was acquired and tracked by the Thales-Raytheon MPQ-64 Sentinel Radar, with
command and control provided by the Marines updated Air Defense
So far, CLAWS has undergone two tests. Officials said a third and final
test would be conducted over the next few months.
Officials described CLAWS as an all-weather, mobile, air defense system
for Marine expeditionary forces. The system, meant to be smaller and cheaper
than the PAC-3, has been mounted on the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled
Vehicle platform and uses the AIM-120 as an interceptor. They said CLAWS was
deemed a Marine variant of the U.S. Army/Marine Ground Launched AMRAAM
common launcher program.