Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Lockheed Martin’s precision-strike missile aces shortest-range flight test

Lockheed Martin Lockheed Martin has successfully completed a short-range qualification flight test of its long-range Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) for the U.S. Army in a demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

One Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) was fired from a U.S. Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to hit a predetermined target. The missile flew the shortest distance to date, demonstrating the system’s continued accuracy from launch to impact.

The Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) is the U.S. Army’s next-generation, long-range precision strike missile capable of neutralizing targets up to more than 400 km (250 miles). This new surface-to-surface weapon system will deliver enhanced capabilities to attack, neutralize, suppress, and destroy targets using missile-delivered indirect fires. The weapon system features an open systems architecture design for maximum affordability and flexibility, is modular for future growth, and is HIMARS and M270 compatible.

The rocket system reached a record range of 150 km (93 miles) in September 2023 after being integrated with the Army’s HIMARS Launcher.

While not PrSM’s primary mission range, the short-range flight demonstrated the missile’s ability to maneuver at hypersonic speeds and align with its target in the most stressful, dynamic environment.

The short-range test was to prove the missile’s structural integrity and targeting capability at its required minimum range. These tests aim to determine the missile’s strength, reliability, and ability to hit nearby targets.

When a PrSM missile is fired at a short range, it might still be accelerating, which means it has limited time to lock onto the target and guide itself toward it. This puts a lot of strain on the missile airframe, and the guidance system needs to work at the edge of its capabilities. Therefore, the guidance system needs to work extra hard to keep the missile on track and guide it to its intended target.

“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, in a statement. “PrSM is a critical capability, and the top long-range precision fires modernization priority for the U.S. Army.”

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