The PAC-2 family of missiles all have a fairly standard design, the only differences between the variants being certain internal components. They consist of (from front to rear) the radome, guidance section, warhead section, propulsion section, and control actuator section.
The radome is made of slip-cast fused silica approximately 16.5 millimetres (0.65 in) thick, with nickel alloy tip, and a composite base attachment ring bonded to the slip cast fused silica and protected by a molded silicone rubber ring. The radome provides an aerodynamic shape for the missile and microwave window and thermal protection for the RF seeker and electronic components.
The Patriot guidance section consists primarily of the modular digital airborne guidance system (MDAGS). The MDAGS consists of a modular midcourse package that performs all of the required guidance functions from launch through midcourse and a terminal guidance section. The TVM seeker is mounted on the guidance section, extending into the radome. The seeker consists of an antenna mounted on an inertial platform, antenna control electronics, a receiver, and a transmitter. The Modular Midcourse Package (MMP), which is located in the forward portion of the warhead section, consists of the navigational electronics and a missile-borne computer that computes the guidance and autopilot algorithms and provides steering commands according to a resident computer program.
The warhead section, just aft of the guidance section, contains the proximity fused warhead, safety-and-arming device, fuzing circuits and antennas, link antenna switching circuits, auxiliary electronics, inertial sensor assembly, and signal data converter.
The propulsion section consists of the rocket motor, external heat shield, and two external conduits. The rocket motor includes the case, nozzle assembly, propellant, liner and insulation, pyrogen igniter, and propulsion arming and firing unit. The casing of the motor is an integral structural element of the missile airframe. It contains a conventional, casebonded solid rocket propellant.
The Control Actuator Section (CAS) is at the aft end of the missile. It receives commands from the missile autopilot and positions the fins. The missile fins steer and stabilize the missile in flight. A fin servo system positions the fins. The fin servo system consists of hydraulic actuators and valves and an electrohydraulic power supply. The electrohydraulic power consists of a battery, motor pump, oil reservoir, gas pressure bottle, and accumulator.
There were many more upgrades to PAC-2 systems throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, again mostly centering on software. However, the PAC-2 missiles were modified significantlyfour separate variants became known collectively as guidance enhanced missiles (GEM).
The main upgrade to the original GEM missile was a new, faster proximity fused warhead. Tests had indicated that the fuse on the original PAC-2 missiles were detonating their warheads too late when engaging ballistic missiles with an extremely steep ingress, and as such it was necessary to shorten this fuse delay. The GEM missile was also given a new "low noise" seeker head designed to reduce interference in front of the missile's radar seeker, and a higher performance seeker designed to better detect low radar cross-section targets. The GEM was used extensively in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), during which air defense was highly successful.
Just prior to OIF, it was decided to further upgrade the GEM and PAC-2 missiles. This upgrade program produced missiles known as the GEM/T and the GEM/C, the "T" designator referring to "TBM", and the "C" designator referring to cruise missiles. These missiles were both given a totally new nose section, which was designed specifically to be more effective against low altitude, low RCS targets like cruise missiles. Additionally, the GEM/T was given a new fuse which was further optimized against ballistic missiles. The GEM/C is the upgraded version of the GEM, and the GEM/T is the upgraded version of the PAC-2. The GEM+ entered service in 2002, and the US Army is currently upgrading its PAC-2 and GEM missiles to the GEM/C or GEM/T standard.