The U.S. Army is seeking a new mid-range missile system that can hit targets between 500 to 1,500 kilometers, or 310 to 930 miles, to help fill a gap in its fires portfolio by 2023. Precision fires is currently the Army’s No. 1 modernization priority, since they can allow formations to penetrate through enemy anti-access/area denial capabilities. It enables access at the strategic level and it enables combined arms maneuver at the tactical level. The endeavor is currently being researched by his team in a partnership with the Field Artillery School, Fires Capability Development Integration Directorate, and Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.
The fires portfolio also includes the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, a self-propelled system built onto a Paladin Integrated Management howitzer chassis. But ERCA has more firepower with its 58-caliber, 30-foot cannon tube compared to the Paladin’s 39-caliber, 20-foot tube. The longer tube and a different chamber, along with improved projectiles and propellant, allow it to shoot artillery shells out to 70 kilometers, or over 40 miles.
After several successful tests, the Army recently sought Soldier feedback of the system during 1st Infantry Division’s rotation at the National Training Center in California. The Army expects to deliver a set of prototypes to a division artillery battalion in 2023.
The Precision Strike Missile now has three successful flight tests under its belt. The surface-to-surface missile looks to increase the range of the Army Tactical Missile System, which has been around for nearly four decades. The PrSM is half the size of its predecessor that has a maximum firing range of only 300 km, or 180 miles — nearly half of the PrSM’s 500 km range. Both missiles pack the same explosive punch.The next phase of testing will include four shots, one of them to be fired out into the Pacific Ocean from the Californian coastline.
At the farthest end of the portfolio includes two complementary systems: a long-range cannon system and hypersonic weapon. The surface-to-surface capabilities will push the Army’s reach to thousands of kilometers. The Army and Navy successfully tested a common hypersonic glide vehicle across the Pacific in March. An Army unit is slated to start training on the system without the live rounds next year. And after additional tests, the weapon will be fielded to a missile battery by 2023. The cannon, which is expected to fire rounds out to 1,000 km, or 620 miles, is currently a science and technology investment led by the Armaments Center at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.