According to Breaking Defense, Lockheed’s new Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) has ranges from 60 to 499 kilometers (37 to 310 miles). Two PrSMs will fit inside the rocket pod of a USMC High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS).
According to Lockheed Martin’s Precision Strike Missile’s page, the 156-inch (13 feet/4 meters) long and 17-inch (1.4 feet/0.4 meter) PrSM is designed for survivability, using Advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) updates that can work in a degraded environment for flight control guidance. The PrSM’s optimized warhead uses preformed fragments to maximize lethality and area blast coverage on the target (such as in an airburst fashion). The nosecone has available space to mount seeker heads at a future date to track both land and sea targets.
According to Breaking Defense’s article, the U.S. Army wants the PrSM to fly out even further, perhaps out to 500-1,100 miles (804-1,770 kilometers) with further future upgrades.
AUSA Warriors Corner 2019 on Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) had a Powerpoint slide statement that read:
“The Precision Strike Missile is a long-range missile fired from existing launcher platforms with greater range, lethality, and survivability at a lower cost than the legacy MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). The ATACMS missile has a length of 13 feet (4 meters) and a larger diameter of 24 inches (610 mm) and flies at Mach 3+ out to targets from 80 miles (128 km) to 190 miles (300 km) depending on Block configuration.”
At the AUSA Global Force Next 2021’s presentation on Long Range Precision Fires, the representative for Fires/Combat Maneuver Systems, Tactical and Strike Missiles, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control said that the company has 30 years of performance data on ATACMS (ATACMS was first fielded in 1991) that allows Lockheed to model the flight characters and predict the effectiveness of the Precision Strike Missile. The use of 3D printers has allowed for a faster production although the Lockheed representative admitted that COVID-19 has affected and slowed the progress of all the Defense suppliers.
Naval News comments
“Link Joint shooters to the right command and control node […] Small units will need to be able to operate on their own […] [The U.S. Army remains relevant in the INDO-PACOM region to] Provide options for the Combatant Commanders for MDO [Multi-Domain Operations]. The Multi-Domain Task Force will provide LRPFs, Cyber, space, and deterrence…Hypersonic, Air Defense, etc.”
General James C. McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army at Virtual AUSA Global Force Next 2021
“Focus on competition. How to maintain an edge so that we can compete every day, every week?”
General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps at Virtual Marine Corps Expo 2020
Alluding to U.S. Army General James McConville’s comments, if the U.S. Marine Corps is to operate as independent small units as envisioned by USMC General David Berger, HiMARS armed with PrSMs would be instrumental in a land attack and Anti-ship role, especially if the missile’s range is increased to 310-1,100 miles (500-1,770 km) and the nosecones are fitted with an advanced seeker that can track moving targets. A missile that has a dual-functional method of seeking and tracking both moving land and sea targets would mean that one or a few HiMARS can effectively deter a broader assortment of moving enemy threats and can provide much better effective deterrence than the existing PrSM that just uses advanced GPS guidance against stationary targets and currently has no seeker to target moving enemy targets.
U.S. Navy hovercrafts, Landing Crafts, and Light Amphibious Warships (LAW) would not have to beach and unload the HiMARS if the PrSM’s long range is enough to reach out and fire from the ship itself, such as from the helicopter flight deck as demonstrated from the flight deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during Dawn Blitz 2017 Oct. 22, or the flight deck of the upcoming LAW. (See photos below). 300+ miles is more than the 100 nautical mile range (115mi/185 kilometers) of the Naval Strike Missile and more than the 150 nmi (172mi/280 km) Harpoon.
If the U.S. Army and Lockheed can manufacturer the PrSM variant with increased range and possess an advanced seeker head that tracks moving targets, such a PrSM might alleviate the twenty-five percent budget cut that the U.S. Marine Corps sustained in researching and developing LRPF Ground-Based Anti-ship Missiles.