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The US Army is hard at work on its newest medium-range missile battery, and plans to field the first unit by September 2023.
This unit would also be the first ever mobile medium-range missile battery of the US Army, and three more are to follow.
The Army is pursuing a Mid-Range Capability (MRC) to fill the gap in the service’s fires portfolio between the Precision Strike Missile’s (PrSM) initial capability of roughly 499 kilometers and ranges it expects to achieve with ground-launched hypersonic missiles.
After the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty fell apart, the US immediately began revealing in-development missiles that would be in breach of the treaty.
The effort on developing the new mid-range missile battery is being led by the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) but once the first battery is fielded, the program will transfer to the Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles & Space.
In 2022, the Army will assemble both the MRC launcher payload deployment system and the first Battery Operations Center (BOC) for the first battery.
A battery will consist of four launchers and one BOC, but the number and distribution of missiles included in the battery is classified.
A system integration and checkout is scheduled for the third quarter of FY22 followed by initial fielding and training to the first unit beginning in the first quarter of FY23.
The Army will seek a release to deploy the system in the third quarter of FY23, according to the schedule in the documents and will conduct an SM-6 test and a Tomahawk test also in the third quarter of FY23.
This development is moving rapidly, but the US Army works in several directions, as it is also beginning funding in FY22 to extend the range of PrSM out to 1,000 kilometers as part of its layered approach.
Mixing and matching ranges from different locations “creates an incredible dilemma for the enemy,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty said. Rafferty is in charge of Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) modernization.
These developments and more are part of the renewed US strategy, poised at great power conflict and the need to defeat “peer aggression.”
All of the U.S. military services are investing in new long-range strike systems to meet this need.
The Army is investing in medium-range and very long-range surface-to-surface missiles to equip its newly formed Indo-Pacific and Europe Multi-Domain Task Forces (MDTF).
The Air Force, which has long provided DOD with the preponderance of its long-range strike capacity, is acquiring B-21 stealth bombers, next-generation cruise missiles, and other munitions that can be delivered by aircraft against targets in contested areas.
The Navy and Marine Corps are fielding new strike munitions for sea control and sea denial in the Indo-Pacific, including ship-borne long-range hypersonic boost-glide land attack weapons and vehicle-mounted medium-range missiles capable of attacking ships in littoral areas.
The Navy and Air Force are also increasing the range, effectiveness, and capacity of the “kill chain” needed to find, fix, track, and attack targets over long ranges.