The US military is about to launch its new missile at “max” range – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense

The army’s PrSM weapon is seen during a test launch. (Lockheed Martin)

AUSA: The US military plans to conduct a launch test of its Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, later today in an effort to see how far the Lockheed Martin-made weapon can go.

The launch is scheduled from Vandenberg Space Force Base. The aim is for the weapon to hit a target 499 km – about 310 miles or so the distance between Washington, DC, and Hartford, Connecticut – in what is described by Lockheed officials as a “maximum range” test. .

The PrSM program, led by the Long Range Precision Fires cross-functional team and the Missiles and Space Program Executive Office, is intended to replace the Army’s Cold War-era tactical missile system, which has a range of maximum of 300 km, or 186 miles. The weapon is designed for surface-to-surface strikes, but the military is expected to test the PrSM as a ship killer in the future.

The weapon’s initial commissioning date is scheduled for 2023, with a delivery of around 20 missiles. During the life of the program, the military currently plans to purchase 2,400 PrSM weapons.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to demonstrate PrSM’s ability in this very long-range mission,” Paula Hartley, Lockheed vice president of tactical missiles, told reporters at the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army. (Follow the full Breaking Defense coverage on AUSA 2021 here.)

Hartley added that another test is scheduled for November at the White Sands Missile Range, in coordination with the Army’s ongoing Project Convergence 21 effort. This test will include side-by-side firing of more than one missile.

The company has tested the weapon at various distances over the past year to see how it performs with “specific objectives in mind,” Hartley said. After all, not all targets will be 499 km away, and ensuring accuracy at close range is just as important for the weapon at this point. The most recent test, in September, covered 400 km.

RELATED: Army General: Missiles To ‘Crush’ The Opponent Must Be A Requirement For JADC2

It should be noted that the military has said it would like the PrSM to reach the 1,000 km range at some point in the future, with upgrades planned along the way making that possible. This objective would fit with the Army’s emphasis on long-range precision fire, particularly those that may have ranges relevant to the Pacific theater.

FY2022 budget documents show the military wants to spend $ 5 million exploring “critical technologies” to expand the PrSM lineup. The military also plans to purchase 110 missiles in fiscal year 2022 for around $ 166 million.

As part of future PrSM upgrades, the military wants to add an improved seeker to the missile so that it can more accurately strike moving targets, such as ships at sea. The multimode seeker detects the radio frequency of an enemy from communications and radar to track the target.

Extending the weapon further may also whet the appetite of foreign interests. The Australians already have a memorandum of understanding with the US government on the PrSM, and Harley has indicated that she would expect the system, when fully operational, to attract interest from foreign military customers.

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Joaquin Robertson

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