Raytheon is developing a long-range missile for the U.S. Army’s Precision Strike Missile requirement, one that will field twice as many missiles on its existing launch vehicles.
The system will fire two missiles from a single weapons pod. The new missile also flies farther and has a better guidance system than current equipment.
“We're looking to replace a design originally from the 1980s," said Greg Haynes, a Raytheon manager leading the company’s campaign for a new precision strike weapon. “Missile technology has come a long way.”
Raytheon is wrapping up a series of test and integration activities and plans to flight test the new missile later this year. Earlier in the year, the DeepStrike missile passed its preliminary design review, in which the Army evaluated a number of aspects of the design, from its guidance system to its lethality and propulsion system.
Shortly thereafter, Raytheon completed a successful static test of the DeepStrike missile’s rocket motor, advancing it to the next stage in development. In the latest test, the company detonated a warhead for the missile in a controlled environment, exceeding Army performance requirements.
Raytheon’s DeepStrike Missile Warhead test completed April 2019.
As part of the development, the company adapted its new launch pod missile container for the Army’s M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS, which will be able to hold two and four missiles respectively, doubling the existing load.
The ability to fit two DeepStrike missiles in an existing launcher is a significant leap over existing tactical missiles.
“Since most of these were produced in the late '90s, you run into what we call ‘end of shelf life,’ where the motors and such are no longer reliable,” said former Army colonel John Weinzettle, now a program manager in Raytheon’s Advanced Missile Systems business.
An upgrade becomes even more urgent considering how quickly threats are evolving around the world.“Adversaries are already equipped with precision strike weapons that could inflict substantial damage at distances beyond the Army’s striking power,” Weinzettle said.
The DeepStrike missile is primarily meant to attack fixed ground locations, like helicopter staging areas or hardened bunkers, and will engage targets up to 499 kilometers away.
The DeepStrike missile draws innovation from other Raytheon programs.
“It is very similar to a lot of the missile designs we’ve done in the shipboard and the air defense roles,” Weinzettle said, citing the SM-3® interceptor and SM-6® missile as examples. “We are bringing technology from both of those programs to bear on DeepStrike.”