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Weapons

US Army’s Precision Strike Missile moves ahead, as US-Russia INF Treaty falters

23 October 2018
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A rendering of Lockheed Martin’s expected offering for the US Army’s PrSM programme. Source: Lockheed Martin

Tests are upcoming in 2019 for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin systems competing for the US Army's Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) programme, a top acquisition priority to replace the legacy Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). PrSM and similar projects could assume extra urgency as the United States has suggested it will withdraw from an intermediate-range weapons treaty with Russia.

PrSM was formerly called the long-range precision fires (LRPF) munition. The army is now using the LRPF term for an overall 'cross-functional team' that is looking to develop specific programmes prioritised by army leadership: an Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) for howitzers, PrSM, and a strategic-range strike system that could utilise hypersonics or hypervelocity weapons.

PrSM, the mid-range of those three, could see prototypes fly in fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) and a first missile could be delivered in FY 2022 or early FY 2023. That early model would be the 'bus', the basis for the army to spiral out new capabilities.

It is to reach out to 499 km and travel 1.5 times faster than the ATACMS. Two are to fit in a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher pod (versus one ATACMS in that launcher). PrSM's 499 km range is to keep the munition in line with the US-Russia 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that bars ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 km. On 20 October, however, US President Donald Trump suggested the United States would withdraw from that treaty, which the United States first accused Russia of violating in 2014.

Future capabilities for PrSM could include hitting multi-domain moving targets - hitting ships from land, or moving targets on land from a ship. It could also serve as a loitering intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance asset, could home-in on specific signal emitters, and could be used against heavily armoured targets, Brigadier General Stephen Maranian, who leads the army's LRPF cross-functional team, told Jane's .

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