U.S. Army Begins Testing Advanced Seeker for Precision Strike Missile

The U.S. Army has successfully completed its first open-air testing of an advanced multi-mode seeker, an upgrade to the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) system.

During a two-day test period June 2-3 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, research teams operated the seeker at 50 percent capacity while tracking moving targets. The seeker was designed to allow an upgraded “Spiral One” missile to acquire targets on both land and sea.

Scientists mounted the new Precision Strike Missile seeker on a pod, which was placed under the wing of an aircraft. Then the research team had the aircraft flown over the testing range at Redstone to track the radio waves of moving targets.

“We think we’re on the right track,” said Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team. Rafferty discussed the testing Thursday from Huntsville, Alabama, during a media roundtable briefing.

The multi-mode seeker was developed from the Land-Based Anti-Ship Missile program that began in 2015 to help the Army target enemy ships with its long-range precision fires capability. However, the Army soon realized the seeker not only had the ability to track the radio signals of moving ships, but also land-based targets such as communications vans and the mobile radars of anti-aircraft defenses.

The capability gives the Army the means to succeed in a difficult anti-access, aerial-denial environment, officials said. The use of multiple sensors also increases the ability to locate targets even without good coordinates.

Rafferty said the Army expects to field the Precision Strike Missile in 2023, and integrate Spiral One into the force by 2025. The Precision Strike Missile will extend the firing range of the current Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, by more than 500 kilometers, he said.

Rafferty said the next step will be to deploy the device at full capacity in a more challenging, deliberate testing environment. Testing will move to White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, this fall.

U.S. Army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) Program

The Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) will be an all-weather, precision-strike guided surface-to-surface missile (SSM) fired from an M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

The missile will destroy/neutralize/suppress targets at ranges from 70-400+ km using missile-delivered indirect precision fires. It provides field artillery units with long-range and deep strike capability while supporting brigade, division, corps, Army, theater, joint/coalition forces and Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) in full, limited or expeditionary operations.

The PrSM missile will replace the existing aged inventory of non-Insensitive Munitions and Cluster Munition policy-compliant Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which are fired from the same M270A1 MLRS and M142 HIMARS launchers, and doubles rate-of-fire with two missiles per launch pod.

In March, Army removed Raytheon from the PrSM prototyping competition leaving Lockheed Martin as the sole competitor for the program.

Lockheed Martin has, until now, conducted three flight tests (1, 2, 3) of its offering for the PrSM program at White Sands Missile Range (WMSR), New Mexico.

Lockheed Martin PrSM Launch
Maiden launch of Lockheed Martin’s next-generation long-range missile being developed for the U.S. Army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program on Dec. 10, 2019. Lockheed Martin Photo.

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