The Army is expected to have two new missile systems in the hands of soldiers by 2024.
The two missiles seek to solve some range issues for the service as part of the broader Long-Range Precision Missile Modernization Program.
The Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, will have a range of up to about 300 miles and will replace the legacy Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, which can reach a maximum range of about 190 miles. The Army is seeking to more than double that distance through an effort beginning in February 2023 with Raytheon that will be part of the development of the Increment 4 system.
To give the Army the speed and range that its leaders see as key to countering peer adversaries like the Russian and Chinese militaries, the service is relying on the development of an entirely new technology in the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon.
When launched, the supersonic missile is expected to reach a range of up to 1,725 miles, according to 2023 Congressional Research Service Report.
The PrSM completed a successful production certification test, firing from a high-mobility artillery rocket system on November 13 at White Sands Missile Range. This test measured how well the missile performed on its intended flight path, lethality, near-vertical engagement angle and burst height, according to Liberation of the army.
The success of this test means the new missile has reached “early operational capability” status, according to the statement. That means soldiers can start working with the system in 2024.
The effort to develop ultrasonic weapons has proven more difficult. To achieve supersonic speeds, key to avoiding enemy detection and air defense systems, the missiles must fly faster than Mach 5 – or more than 3,836 miles per hour – and be able to maneuver at various altitudes, Defense News reported .
Developers delivered the first prototype hypersonic weapon to the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington in fiscal year 2021. This early augmentation included the battery operations center, four launchers and modified trucks and trailers to transport the weapon.
Development of the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, or C-HGB, which includes the weapon’s warhead, guidance system, wiring and heat shield, has hit roadblocks after an aborted test in September. The delay means the system will likely be implemented in 2024, instead of its originally planned implementation in late 2023, officials said.
Undersecretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo told Defense News he was confident in the program and the deployment was going well, but could not go into specifics about the canceled test.
The two systems are key weapons for the newly formed Army Multi-Sector Task Forces and Strategic Mid-Range Fires battery.
The service’s primary plan is to field an SMRF battery in its Strategic Fire Battalion, which will be led by the MDTF.
The Army formed the 1st MDTF in the US Indo-Pacific Command in 2018, followed by the 2nd MDTF in Europe in 2021 and the 3rd MDTF in the Pacific in 2022, and saw its first full operational exercise in 2023. the Army Times reported.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government, and the military for multiple publications since 2004, and was named a 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist for a co-authored work on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine from the Iraq War.
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