US Army Receives First Long-Range Precision Strike Missiles

World Defense

US Army Receives First Long-Range Precision Strike Missiles

The U.S. Army has achieved a significant milestone with the receipt of the inaugural Precision Strike Missiles, heralding the commencement of the replacement process for the outdated Army Tactical Missile System. This announcement was made in a statement on December 8, underscoring the successful production qualification testing that took place at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in November.

The delivery of Precision Strike Missile Increment 1 Early Operational Capability missiles is part of a broader initiative, with 24 major modernization programs slated to reach soldiers by the conclusion of 2023. According to the statement, this delivery is emblematic of the Army proactive utilization of new acquisition authorities granted by Congress, enabling swift development and deployment of advanced equipment for soldiers.

Doug Bush, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, emphasized the significance of the Precision Strike Missile in providing Joint Force commanders with a 24/7, all-weather capability to counter adversaries in combat maneuver and air defense operations.

The Precision Strike Missile has been a pivotal component of the Army long-range precision fires portfolio, established as part of the service modernization priorities in 2017. It can be launched from both the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and the M270A2 Multiple Launch Rocket System, playing a crucial role in the Army pursuit of a deep-strike capability against emerging threats, particularly from Russian and Chinese technologies.

Initially, the program involved a competition between Lockheed Martin and RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies). However, due to challenges faced by RTX during the technology maturation and risk reduction phase, the Army and RTX mutually decided to conclude their collaboration in March 2020. Lockheed Martin continued development independently, and in September 2021, the Army approved the PrSM program to move into the engineering and manufacturing development phase, awarding a $62 million contract for early operational capability production.

Lockheed Martin received an additional $158 million a year later for more early operational-capability PrSMs. The Army plans to enhance the missile capabilities, including an improved seeker, increased lethality, and extended range. In the immediate future, the focus is on developing a maritime, ship-killing capability.

Looking ahead, Lockheed Martin and a team comprising RTX and Northrop Grumman will compete in the subsequent phase of the PrSM program. RTX was awarded a $97.7 million contract in February 2023 for the Long Range Maneuverable Fires program, slated to become the PrSM Increment 4 effort. Lockheed received a $33 million contract around the same time to develop capabilities for the increment, aiming to significantly extend the range of PrSM beyond its initially planned 499 kilometers (310 miles).

The U.S. Army withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in 2019 has provided the opportunity to develop missiles with extended ranges. The treaty, which had restricted the development of missiles with ranges between 499 kilometers and 5,000 kilometers, no longer limits the PrSM potential. In October 2021, the U.S. Army conducted a long-range flight test of PrSM, exceeding the current range requirement of 499 kilometers.

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