The Marine Corps has launched a competition for a new 120mm “smart” mortar that can correct its trajectory mid-flight to home in on targets.

A solicitation for a precision extended range munition (PERM) was released in early June, marking the end of the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the program. Raytheon [RTN] held the EMD contract that included delivery of 42 rounds of 120mm long-range guided mortar ammunition.

Raytheon spokesman John Eagles said the company had completed the EMD work and expects to submit a formal PERM proposal before the July 17 deadline.

The Marine Corps is looking for a mortar round that can strike targets accurately at ranges of up to 12 miles. Its current M327 towed mortar–the primary weapon of the Marines’ expeditionary fire support system–has an effective range of between three and five miles.

Raytheon partnered with Israeli Military Industries to develop its PERM offering, which uses extendable fins and a GPS seeker to correct its flight path and home in on targets during flight.

The companies in December announced successful tests of the PERM round. Three projectiles were fired to the required range and struck within a prescribed distance. Another round was fired at a much closer minimum range at an “off-axis target” and also found its mark with sufficient accuracy, Raytheon said in a statement.

Once fielded, the PERM round will add precision guidance to the Marines mortar systems that already is available for the M109A2/A3 self-propelled howitzer. Raytheon’s Excalibur 155mm artillery shell uses a dual-mode seeker to adjust trajectory in flight. The company says more than 66 Excalibur rounds have been fired in combat by the Army and Marine Corps.

Aside from the obvious advantage of improved accuracy, precision guidance capability has the second- and third-order effects of requiring less ammunition to strike a target, which in turn reduces the logistical burden of the weapon system. It also reduces the risk of friendly fire and collateral damage because enemy targets can be zeroed in to the exclusion of forward-deployed forces or civilians.

PERM’s extended range will aid Marines deployed in remote areas reach targets that otherwise would have been out of reach.