• Image: LM
    Image: LM

Lockheed Martin has successfully completed a production qualification flight test for the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) with the US Army in a demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Australia signed an MoU to partner with the US Army in PrSM development in August 2021, contributing $70 million to develop an ‘Increment 2’ weapon, which will include an enhanced seeker, and increased lethality and range.

During the test, one PrSM was fired from a HIMARS launcher to hit a target set. The test is the shortest distance flown to date; while not PrSM’s primary mission range, the short-range flight represents the most stressful, dynamic environment for the missile as it manoeuvred at hypersonic speeds to align to the target. According to LM, this test verifies structural integrity of the missile and trajectory control.

“This demonstration is the first of several production qualification tests moving PrSM closer to fielding and delivery of Early Operational Capability (EOC) missiles this year,” said Jay Price, vice president of Precision Fires at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “PrSM is a critical capability and the top long-range precision fires modernisation priority for the US Army.”

The test follows a third production contract to produce additional EOC missiles awarded in September 2023.

PrSM is the US Army’s next generation long-range precision strike missile capable of striking targets out to more than 400 kilometres. The new surface-to-surface weapon is HIMARS and M270 compatible.

Under a US$385 million deal approved by Washington in May 2022, Australia has requested 20 HIMARS with both GMLRS and ATACMS missiles, and plans to accelerate acquisition of further HIMARS beyond the initial request to include Lockheed Martin's PrSM Increment 2. Two PrSM missiles can be carried in each HIMARS pod.

The baseline weapon, known as PrSM Increment 1, is being developed to engage a variety of targets at ranges “beyond 400 km” and focuses on imprecisely located area and point targets.

Under Increment 2, the MoU covers the incorporation of technology which is understood to include an enhanced seeker to allow surface ships and air-defence systems to be engaged. This phase will also seek to increase the weapon’s lethality and deliver extended range capability.

The US Army’s PrSM program was originally conceived to develop a missile with a maximum range of 499 km, within the limits of the US-Russian Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which banned the development of strike weapons with ranges between 500 and 5,000 km.

However, the Trump administration withdrew from the INF treaty in 2019 and US media have previously reported that the US Army wants to extend the weapon’s maximum range to beyond 1,000 km.

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