- The US Army is testing a new surface-to-surface ballistic missile to replace its ATACMS arsenal.
- The Precision Missile (PrSM) program is expected to strengthen field artillery units.
- The Army says PrSM will expand the range of ATACMS, which Ukraine has used with great success.
The US military is testing a powerful new missile that will eventually replace the MGM-140 military missile systems, or ATACMS, a weapon that made its battlefield debut last month during a successful attack on Russia’s helicopter fleet.
The Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program has been underway for several years and is intended to provide field artillery units with extended long-range support and deep strike capabilities. In a demonstration last week at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the rocket completed a test flight as part of its qualification for production.
The army said in a letter dated November 16 statement that it recently fired a basic variant of the missile – called Increment 1 – from the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in a test that “demonstrated successful strikes against targets.” The service said preliminary results show the missile “performed nominally in terms of expected flight trajectory, lethality, near-vertical engagement angle and blast height,” and a final test report is expected in December.
The PrSM, developed by Lockheed Martin, is an all-weather surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can be equipped with a cluster munition payload, meaning it can disperse multiple small bombs scattered over an area mid-flight. According to the US military, in addition to HIMARS, PrSM can also be launched from the M270A2 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). Acquisition Support Center.
After last week’s tests, the Army said the primary PrSM variant is expected to replace the aging ATACMS missile arsenal, which will “significantly” increase the “range and effectiveness” of the U.S. military’s long-range precision munitions. Future variants “will focus on extending range and attacking time-sensitive, moving, resistant and elusive targets,” Pentagon says document regarding the PrSM program explains.
With a range of almost 400 km, PrSM covers the maximum distance than any other ATACMS variant can travel (186 miles with unitary warhead). Additionally, the HIMARS launch pod is capable of carrying two PrSMs while it can only hold one ATACMS munition, thus doubling its firepower.
ATACMS has long been in the news as Russia declares war on Ukraine. The weapon has been at the top of Ukraine’s wish list for months of security assistance needed to fend off invading Russian forces, but the United States has repeatedly said it cannot deliver the powerful weapon to Kiev because it would put pressure on the country’s stockpile and likely reduce levels of readiness of the hamstrings. . There were also concerns about escalation.
Ukraine ultimately received a limited number of the M74 variant of the M39 ATACMS, a lethal cluster missile with a range of about 100 and armed with 950 anti-personnel and anti-tank bombs, or APAMs. Kiev debuted weapons it secretly acquired from the US in spectacular fashion last month, destroying multiple Russian helicopters at two air bases.
Although several weeks have passed since the first attacks, the threat to Moscow remains high, and experts say this creates a dilemma for the Russian military, which will have to determine how best to protect its assets without limiting their operational value.
However, with the success of the M39 ATACMS variant, calls continue for the United States to send longer-range variants to the Ukrainian military. Some argue that including PrSM in the Pentagon’s stockpile could allay any concerns about the stockpile.
Dan Rice, president of the American University of Kiev and a longtime supporter of sending cluster munitions to Ukraine, said that while it will take time to reach full PrSM production, the latest round of testing “should provide greater confidence in the manufacturer’s military decision to use ATACMS in Ukraine.”
“The often-cited excuse for not sending ‘286-mile-range ATACMS’ is that there aren’t many spares in the U.S.,” Rice told Business Insider. “Awareness of the upcoming next-generation HIMARS long-range missile should give the United States and its allies the confidence to deliver ATACMS to Ukraine, knowing that they will ultimately receive PrSM.