US Army Pushes Long-Range Missile Bombardment Program
The U.S. Army is accelerating a new program whose end product will be a long-range surface-to-surface missile capable of accurately destroying enemy targets over 400 km away.
The development plan for army's "Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) Program" is expected by the end of this year. The army should select the contractor that will produce this missile by early 2021.
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An indelible feature of conventional warfare, long-range bombardment took a back seat in the army due to the nature of the counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria where close-range combat predominated.
The army is now reverting to type to counter the improving long-range fire capabilities of Russia and China, especially the former.
LRPF is being developed to replace the ageing MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS) system that became operational in the 1990s. The ATacMS missile has a range of 300 km.
Made by Lockheed Martin, ATacMS was cancelled in 2007 due to the rising cost of maintaining the system but received a service life expansion for 121 missiles in 2016. The system should finally be retired when LRPS becomes operational.
Apart the service life extension program for ATacMS, LRPF includes the acquisition of 6,000 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) and continued low-rate initial production of 93 Patriot Missile Segment Enhanced missiles.
In addition, the Army wants a launch pod missile container compatible with existing launchers platforms such as the GMLRS and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
The U.S. Army's top modernization priorities are focused on boosting its advantage in conventional combat against Russia and China after over a decade of counterinsurgency campaigns in the Middle East.
Weapons that inflict long-range destruction abound in the army's fiscal year 2018 budget request. These include the army's long neglected surface-to-air missile defenses and LRPF.
Taken together, these weapons included in the army's $26.8 billion funding request seek to recapture the army's capability to conduct large-scale, conventional, all arms military operations against Russia and China.