Army seeks to develop extended-range PrSM

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Army seeks to develop extended-range PrSM

By Ethan Sterenfeld / June 17, 2021 at 2:52 PM

The Biden administration's fiscal year 2022 budget request included $5 million for the Army to begin developing an extended-range version of the Precision Strike Missile with a range of at least 1,000 kilometers.

The upgraded PrSM would have increased survivability and would be able to operate in anti-access/area-denial and GPS-denied environments, according to the budget request. It would be a new start research and development program for FY-22.

Funding would be used to "determine system-level technical requirements" for the upgrades, including technical requirements and determinations of which new technologies would be critical to achieving greater range, according to the request.

While the base PrSM is still in testing and has not flown farther than 400 km to date, the Army has said it is interested in extending the range.

Officially, the PrSM's range has been described as 500 km. But the Army is no longer bound by the 500 km limit of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and service officials have said PrSM could potentially reach 800 km.

PrSM procurement would receive $166 million under the proposed FY-22 budget, more than triple procurement funding from FY-21. The FY-22 funding would purchase 110 early operational capability missiles.

The FY-22 contract would be awarded next June to Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for PrSM under the budget request. Deliveries from the contract would begin in December 2023.

Long-range fires has emerged as the top priority in the service's modernization campaign. PrSM missiles bought under an earlier contract will be fielded under an urgent materiel release in FY-23, the same year as initial fielding of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery and the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon.

These new capabilities have been touted as one of the Army's contributions to the military's shift to potential large-scale warfare in the Indo-Pacific region. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has said that land-based fires help create "multiple dilemmas" for enemy commanders.

The Army held a live-fire demonstration June 16 of a robotic version of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, one of the two vehicles that will launch the PrSM.

The demonstration involved a scenario in which both a base PrSM missile and an extended-range version would be launched from an island chain in the Indo-Pacific region to disable a near-peer adversary's anti-access/area-denial systems at the start of conflict, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, said on a call with reporters.

An extended-range version is one of at least three future competitions that have been planned for PrSM upgrades, the Army announced last year. Other competitions would include a seeker and enhanced lethality.