The Army is planning to test offerings late next year for its new long-range precision strike munition (PrSM) capable of reaching 499 kilometers with a goal of fielding systems by 2023, drastically accelerating the schedule from an original 2027 delivery date.

Col. John Rafferty, director of the Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) cross functional team (CFT), told reporters Wednesday the search for a new tactical missile system has seen increased resources as senior army leadership identified LRPF as the top priority among its six modernization efforts.

Lockheed Martin's Precision Strike Munition (PrSM) offering (middle). Photo: Matthew Beinart.
Lockheed Martin’s Precision Strike Munition (PrSM) offering (middle). Photo: Matthew Beinart.

“The PrSM schedule has been significantly accelerated as a result of the emphasis by the senior leadership, and the additional resources that came with this emphasis,” Rafferty told reporters during the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in D.C.

PrSM will serve as the replacement for the Army’s Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), built by Lockheed Martin [LMT].

The Army has already selected Lockheed and Raytheon [RTN to develop PrSM prototypes, with the goal of reaching an extended range of 499 km and providing enhanced lethality and survivability over the current missile. The range of ATACMS is around 300 km.

Rafferty said moving ahead with PrSM will allow his LRPF CFT to reach a critical modernization goal by providing greater flexibility to focus on “spiraling” in advanced capabilities for complex projects including development of hypersonics.

“What that does, as the first missiles out, is it really brings us to the left of all the spirals. If we’re still talking about 2027, we’d still be trying to spiral stuff in there,” Rafferty said.

Lockheed Martin officials told reporters Wednesday they are on schedule for live-fire tests with their PrSM offering in late 2019.

“This will be the new long range fires option for the U.S. Army. It is going to shape the battlefield in 24/7 operations, all-weather, providing oversized lethality on the targets,” a Lockheed Martin spokesperson said. “PrSM is going to be longer range, decrease your time to target, provide enhanced lethality and survivability. ATACMS does a lot of that work today, and this is the next-generation capability that goes further and beyond.”

The new missile system will also allow HIMARS and M270 launchers to carry pods each holding two PrSM missiles. Current ATACMS pods only only for a single missile load, according to Lockheed.

Rafferty emphasized a need for PrSM to be upgradeable to account for advancement in sensors and potential changes in range requirements as the threat landscape evolves in the future.

“We’re going to the U.S. soldiers with enhanced capabilities to attack, neutralize and destroy target with this ammunition. And we will have open architecture designs so we can enable those future enhancements as the threat environment changes,” a Lockheed spokesperson said.