PGMs FOR GROUND FORCES
– by Scott R. Gourley
“As these pages go to press, Army representatives are attempting to accelerate the fielding of at least one new PGM with the goal of placing a revolutionary new precision attack capability into U.S. Soldiers’ hands this calendar year.”
Among recent lessons learned in what military planners call the “contemporary operating environment” has been the critical need to field new generations of precision guided munitions (PGMs) to tomorrow’s ground forces.
In the United States, for example, the development and fielding of PGMs continues to play a critical role in the pivotal Future Combat Systems (FCS) program.
A case in point can be found in the Mid-Range Munition (MRM) program. In early April 2004, U.S. Army representatives announced the successful firing in of a new precision-guided MRM scored a direct hit on a tank target three miles away.
MRM is a gun launched precision-guided munition being developed for the Future Combat System (FCS) Mounted Combat Systems (MCS) vehicle. The projectile will satisfy the need for a beyond line of sight capability, defeat threats with pinpoint accuracy and minimize collateral damage and exposure of U.S. forces to hostile fire. The new munition is being developed by a team of engineers from the U. S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and Office of the Project Manager for Maneuver Ammunition Systems and Alliant Techsystems in Minneapolis.
According to the Army announcement, the tank target used in the 1 April 2004 firing test was not visible from the projectile firing position during the test that took place at the Army’s Yuma Proviing Ground, Ariz. During the flight, the MRM acquired and tracked the tank target with its onboard autonomous millimeter wave seeker and executed multiple maneuvers toward the tank.
“The Mid-Range Munition (MRM) Guide-To-Hit projectile’s airframe and electronics survived the Hi-G gun launch and the projectile flew a stable flight,” said Army Project Manager for Maneuver Ammunition Systems William J. Sanville.
“Today’s test firing is a significant step toward our ultimate objective of providing Soldiers a munition that will defeat targets with precise accuracy while limiting their exposure to hostile fire,” he added. “We are delighted with the results. When fielded, MRM will give the Soldier overwhelming lethality at line-of-sight and beyond-line of sight ranges.”
Precision munitions also play a critical role in another FCS component known as the Non Line of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS). As envisioned by planners, the NLOS-LS weapon system is a family of artillery missiles fired from a vertical launcher that can be deployed by ground or air assets throughout a theater and networked to quickly engage an enemy. System components include both Precision Attack Missiles (PAM) and Loitering Attack Missiles (LAM) fired from the same autonomous Container Launch Unit (CLU).
The PAM is a low-cost direct attack missile that is also seven inches in diameter and weighs about 117 pounds, and will provide a wide range of support up to 40 kilometers. It will include a variable thrust solid rocket motor, dual-mode uncooled infrared/semi-active laser seeker, and a multi-mode warhead.
The LAM is described as an expendable, loitering hunter-killer. In production, it will be about 60 inches long and weigh less than 120 pounds. It is capable of searching a large area using a laser radar (LADAR) seeker with automatic target recognition. LAM’s initial capability will be 30 minutes of loitering at 70 kilometers using its micro turbojet. While loitering, LAM will be able to report the identification and exact location of targets without exercising its lethal capability.
In March 2004, NetFires Limited Liability Company (LLC) – a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Company – received a $1.1 billion contract for System Design and Development (SDD) for the