Raytheon missile intercepts rocket

A missile made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems intercepted and destroyed a low-flying rocket in a key step in development of a weapon to counter rockets, artillery and mortar rounds, the company said Monday.

During a recent test with the U.S. Army at the Yuma Proving Ground, the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative (AI3) system intercepted a 107-millimeter rocket as part of the second series of guided test-vehicle flight tests.

The intercept is a major test milestone before the U.S. Army begins live-fire engagements in September, the company said in a news release.

Designed as a “system of system” to save money and time, the AI3 battle system includes a Raytheon-made Ku-band radio frequency fire-control radar, a launcher based on the Army’s Avenger system and an existing C-RAM command-and-control system.

During the recent test, the AI3 interceptor was initially guided by the radar system, then used its onboard target seeker with the radar to reach the incoming rocket at lethal range. An active proximity fuse detected the target and timed its burst to destroy the mock threat, Raytheon said.

Beginning in September, Raytheon said, the Army will conduct live-fire testing against targets including rockets, unmanned aircraft and other threats to forward bases.

Raytheon won a $79 million contract to demonstrate the technology in March 2012. Other companies, including Northrop Grumman, are involved in separate counterrocket- development programs.

AZ panel to tackle income-tax overhaul

PHOENIX — A special committee including members of the Arizona Legislature has been appointed to examine how the state’s income tax system could be overhauled to make it simpler and more fair and transparent.

The task force appointed late last week by Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Andy Biggs will meet about twice a month beginning Wednesday. It will take testimony and come up with policy recommendations that could be used to draft legislation for consideration next year.

Members include House and Senate lawmakers from both major political parties and representatives from business and tax-advocacy groups.

The Republican-controlled Legislature overhauled the state’s sales tax collection system to make it simpler for businesses in the session that ended in June.

Lawmakers also have enacted numerous business tax breaks in recent years.

July jobless rate rises in half of the states

WASHINGTON — Unemployment rates rose in more than half of U.S. states in July and fewer states added jobs, echoing national data that show the job market may have lost some momentum.

The Labor Department said Monday that unemployment rates increased in 28 states. They were unchanged in 14 (including Arizona’s, which stayed at 8 percent), and fell in eight states — the fewest to show a decline since January.

Nationwide, hiring has been steady this year but slowed in July. Employers added 162,000 jobs, the fewest since March. The unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, a 4½-year low, from 7.6 percent.

Pemex plans new firm to explore for US oil

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s state-owned oil company says it will form a new entity to explore and produce shale gas and deep-water oil in U.S. territory.

The plan will help Petroleos Mexicanos, known as Pemex, acquire drilling techniques it now lacks for complicated terrain in Mexico, chief executive Emilio Lozoya said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Pemex confirmed the plan Monday.

“The geology is similar, and we can benefit from numerous areas of collaboration with international oil companies,” Lozoya said.

Pemex has so far been unable to exploit its shale and deep-water reserves, and the Mexican Constitution limits its ability to hire outside expertise in Mexico. The government has proposed allowing Pemex to enter profit-sharing contracts with private companies. and let outside companies refine and transport oil inside the country.

That would require politically controversial changes to the constitution.

From wire reports