March 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army and Raytheon are moving ahead with the first flights tests of the new DeepStrike surface-to-surface missile later this year after successfully completing preliminary design review of the system.
During testing of the Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, the Army evaluated all aspects of the new missile's design, including its advanced propulsion system, lethality package and guidance system.
"Completion of Raytheon's PrSM preliminary design review helps us accelerate development and fielding of this high priority Army program," Col. Chris Mills, U.S. Army program manager for Precision Fires, Rocket and Missile Systems, said in a Raytheon news release Monday. "We are now ready to move to test and integration activities that will lead to a demonstration of PrSM's new capabilities."
The DeepStrike will replace the current Army Tactical Missile System that was built in the 1980s.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin were awarded contracts to build prototypes for the PrSM program with missiles designed to attack fixed ground locations, including helicopter staging areas or hardened bunkers.
The DeepStrike is expected to reach a range of 310 miles, compared with the older system's 186 miles, and with much better accuracy and lethality.
In an innovation, the launcher will fire two missiles from a single weapons pod.
"One system can fire twice as many missiles, twice as fast, and it's much cheaper because it uses one launcher with two missiles," Marine infantry veteran Allen Horman, now a business development manager in Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems, said in a Raytheon news release.
Last year, the DeepStrike's new launch pod missile container was integrated into the Army's M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS launchers.
The Army is pushing to move the new system in place by 2023 ahead of the original 2027, Col. John Rafferty, the Army's cross-functional team lead for Long Range Precision Fires, told Defense News.
"Adversaries are already equipped with precision strike weapons that could inflict substantial damage at distances beyond the Army's striking power," said former Army colonel John Weinzettle, now a program manager in Raytheon's Advanced Missile Systems business.