The Army‘s next-generation midrange missile completed a 240-mile test flight, its longest to date, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico last week.
It was the fourth consecutive flight of the surface-to-surface Precision Strike Missile (PrSM.) It landed in the target area, and officials with manufacturer Lockheed Martin said they met their test objectives, including confirming the flight trajectory, range and accuracy from launch to impact.
The flight was the first of three demonstrations that will take place this year. Additional test flights are scheduled for the second half of 2021, officials said.
The Army has made a full-court press for precision missiles, which it says will be desperately needed in the Indo-Pacific theater in the event of a war with China. In addition to the PrSM, the service wants to add the Long Range Hypersonic weapon to its arsenal. It is expected to have a range of several thousand miles.
The Army‘s missile strategy has been controversial, even in the Pentagon. Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, has accused the Army of duplicating already existing weapons systems, calling their plan a “stupid idea.” Some analysts questioned the Army‘s logic of developing a land-based missile system for East Asia before securing launch locations, which likely will be in foreign countries.
“Building a missile without base access is risky [because] its location dictates range requirements,” Stacie Pettyjohn, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) said in a Twitter message. “Unlike aircraft, a missile’s range cannot be extended by in-flight refueling.”