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Related Video Above: China Thinks Its Hypersonic Missiles Can Beat U.S. Missile Defenses

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

The Army test fired its new Precision Strike Missile during its Project Convergence 21 war-networking experiment in the Arizona desert as part of a decided effort to establish the weapon as multi-domain capable.

The PrSM, which broke new range records in a test earlier this year, is envisioned as a long-range, precision-strike weapon able to destroy targets on land or at sea, something which was assessed during the experiment at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz.

Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) 

PrSM broke new records after being fired off during a test at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, a development representing an ability to change the paradigm for ground warfare by bringing new ranges and precision against enemy ground installations, equipment, air defenses, command and control structures and even moving targets.

While initially conceived of as a land-attack weapon to “out range” an enemy and destroy enemy installations, armored columns and air defenses at unprecedented ranges, the PrSM can be equally significant as a maritime attack system able to fire from land to destroy enemy surface ships.

“The long term missile solution for the Army is to attack all domains including maritime and land…. is PrSM,” said Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, Director, Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team, Army Futures Command.

Video Above: Long Range Precision Fires

PrSM maker Lockheed Martin issued a statement to The National interest that the test firing at Vandenberg successfully exceeded previously achieved ranges and traveled farther than 400 kilometers. The weapon is now going through what’s called the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development phase, a key testing and development step intended to prepare the weapon for deployment in 2023.

“In the future, we want to bring in more shooters and kind of expand. And it’s about scaling, right? So, you know, how, how far can we expand the network? How far can we expand their scale in the number of shooters we bring? And how far can we scale the number of sensors? Because you’re gonna reach an upper boundary at some point. And so what is that upper boundary? And you know, how does that work in a contested environment?” Gen. John Murray, Commander of U.S. Army Futures Command, told Warrior

DALLAS, March 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) successfully tested its next-generation long-range missile designed for the Army's Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program at White Sands Missile Range, NM

DALLAS, March 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) successfully tested its next-generation long-range missile designed for the Army's Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program at White Sands Missile Range, NM

As multi-domain networking technologies continue to increase and strengthen, the Army will undoubtedly continue to find new applications and targeting possibilities for its PrSM, a weapon which came into being following Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty. 

Following Russian violation of the INF Treaty, which had previously put limitations on mid-range missiles of this kind, the U.S. Army has been testing and developing a number of ground-fired weapons capable of attacking at these ranges.

The PrSM, according to Murray, represents a specific effort to move beyond previous range restrictions, given that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) was canceled due to Russian violations. A weapon of roughly 500km does bring a mid-range attack possibility of particular relevance in places like the European continent which is home to many U.S.-allied countries. An ability to hold an approaching force at risk, while being at lower risk of an enemy strike or counterattack, is the strategic intent for the missile.

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Army Long-Range Precision Fires technology is already reshaping combat tactics and strategies as the service surges to architect modern iterations of Combined Arms Maneuver suitable to meet a new generation of great power threats.

Unprecedented Ranges and Progressing 

The service’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) weapon is fast breaking new barriers by hitting unprecedented ranges and progressing with new precision-guidance seeker technology. Adding new guidance and precision targeting to breakthrough demonstrations in attack range changes the paradigm for long-range strike against enemy air defenses, installations and even moving targets.

Earlier this year, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin said the Army was developing new “seeker” technology for the PrSM, and now the service has put General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) under contract to design, fabricate and test a Digital Guided Missile system concept prototype.

The system concept will enable new kinds of Non-Line-of-Sight missile targeting capability for the Army, something of great relevance given that the PrSM recently broke a new range record. Combining both new range dynamics with NLOS-targeting technology introduces an entirely new sphere of targeting and attack options for 

Lockheed’s prototype Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) fires from an Army HIMARS launcher truck in a file photo. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed’s prototype Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) fires from an Army HIMARS launcher truck in a file photo. (Lockheed Martin)

Army ground forces. GA-EMS’ DGM can greatly optimize “cost-per-kill” by firing more submunitions from the , and these cost advantages will be fortified by much improved lethality by virtue of its ability to automatically recognize targets. The submunitions are engineered to maneuver and extend beyond the range of the PrSM using “lift-body with wings to give it additional glide,” developers explain.

Future Vertical Lift and Next-Generation Combat Vehicles

While the initial application for the new Digital Guided Missile system is slated to improve the PrSM, Army and industry plans include possible additional applications such as use on the service’s Future Vertical Lift and Next-Generation Combat Vehicles programs.

GA-EMS is likely architecting its Digital Guided Missile system with technical standards such that it can easily transition between platforms and upgrade as needed. One reason for this is GA-EMS’ internally funded research and development and digital engineering missile designs

“GA-EMS has more than a decade’s worth of experience developing and advancing hypersonic weapons technologies for the joint service. We develop missile designs that have a digital model grounded with vetted modeling and simulation infrastructures,”

Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS, said in a company statement.

PrSM now draws upon GPS and inertial measurement unit technology, yet there are certainly a wide range of innovations related to targeting accuracy, guidance, datalink communication and “hardening.” Therefore, it would certainly not be surprising if the Army were looking at the GA-EMS technology for hardening its guidance networks and also exploring non-GPS, less-jammable targeting technologies.

Lockheed Martin’s PrSM missile contains an insensitive munition (IM) propulsion system and IM energetic payload capable of defeating the PrSM target set. It also features an open systems architecture design for maximum affordability and flexibility, is modular for future growth and HIMARS and M270 compatible.

Lockheed Martin’s PrSM missile contains an insensitive munition (IM) propulsion system and IM energetic payload capable of defeating the PrSM target set. It also features an open systems architecture design for maximum affordability and flexibility, is modular for future growth and HIMARS and M270 compatible.

In a previous discussion about PrSM earlier this year, Brig Gen. John Raffery, Director of the Army's Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, explained to Warrior that longer-range offensive weapons do, in fact, help the service refine its approach to modern Combined Arms Maneuver.

"Long range fires can suppress and neutralize enemy integrated air defenses and enable combined arms maneuver. Combined Arms allows us to close with and destroy an enemy. It requires armor, infantry and combat aviation to work together in a synchronized fashion. If we lose this synchronization we are far less lethal. If an enemy has range, he can separate the combined arms team. Our adversaries have watched us and learned how we fight. They have invested in areas to offset our advantage,” Rafferty told Warrior.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven -the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President