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The United States Army had a much needed success in modernization while testing its new Precision Strike Missile (the PrSM).
The PrSM reached a range of 400 km, making it the longest it had flown so far. The test took place at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The missile went through three flight tests last year during a technology maturation and risk reduction phase, ranging from 240 kilometers, 180 kilometers and 85 kilometers. Shorter ranges can be more difficult to execute, as the missile must go up and come down quicker.
The PrSM is a priority program for the Army. It is intended to replace the Army Tactical Missile System and to play an important role in the service’s future deep-strike capability.
Initially, the missile was planned to go up to 499 kilometers, as it adhered to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. Washington withdrew from it, and as such now the US Army wants it to reach further.
The May 12 test marks the fourth PrSM missile flight test and the first of three tests in an extended technology maturation and risk reduction phase. There will be two more flight tests this year. It is expected that in the near future the missile will be tested at Vandenberg Air Base, California. It is planned to attempt to fly it further than 499 kilometers.
The US Army’s aim is to initially field the capability in 2023 and then add further improvements that will meanwhile be tested such as an enhanced seeker, increased lethality and an extended range.
The near-term priority is to pursue a maritime, ship-killing capability as well as enhanced lethality. Then the service plans to pursue an extended-range capability, but the timeline is unclear.
The PrSM will be a surface-to-surface, all weather, precision-strike guided missile fired from the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
The baseline missile will be developed and fielded to engage a wide variety of targets at ranges of up to and beyond 499km. It will emphasize imprecisely located areas and point targets. Primary emphasis for follow-on spirals will be on increased range, lethality and engagement of time sensitive, moving, hardened and fleeting targets.
PrSM is expected to provide field artillery units with long range and deep strike capability while supporting all parts of the US Army in their operations. PrSM will replace the existing aged inventory of non-Insensitive Munitions and Cluster Munition policy compliant with new Army Tactical Missile Systems.