The US Army recently reminded us its looking to acquire Long Range Precision Munitions (LRPM); a demonstration shoot off is to be conducted near the end of 2022. The new munitions would be fielded by future unmanned aircraft and helicopters which are expected to replace current platforms. The Department of Defense has already decided to use missiles produced by Israeli firm Rafael as an interim solution, and considering that these have a range of almost 19 miles, this will likely be a statistic that successful contractors will seek to exceed. When the government described what it expects of LRPM munitions back in 2019, it stated that the LRPM munitions “should be able to engage stationary and moving targets in day and night conditions in adverse weather and GPS-denied environments with low collateral damage”.
A notice released by the government explained the purpose of the scheduled 2022 shoot off as follows:
“The Government will provide industry the opportunity to demonstrate potential LRPM candidate solutions at a to-be-determined Government test site within the continental United States in 4QFY22. The demonstration event is a critical element of the acquisition strategy to procure and field LRPM. […] Results from the demonstration, digital simulation performance (reference Section II-E), and the evaluation of the FY23-01 AMTC EWPs, may culminate in an AMTC OTA award to a single or multiple vendors to produce up to 60 LRPM munitions to support qualification and testing in support of a planned FY26 aircraft integration and qualification. The Government anticipates this may result in follow on production contracts or transactions without the use of competitive procedures.”
The army has been heavily focusing on acquiring long range precision capabilities as part of its readjustment towards great power competition from a focus on counterterrorism and irregular warfare. Army planners hope that long range precision fires will allow the army military to overcome some of the most dangerous Russian and Chinese assets such as their A2/AD networks. As one Army War College report concerning the future of the army in Europe explains:
“For instance, a forward-deployed fires brigade with long-range precision fires ready to target enemy A2/AD on the first day of hostilities would significantly alter the operational dynamic within the theater. The NATO air component would be able to achieve freedom of maneuver much sooner, with less expenditure of munitions and attrition to aircraft”
The army has already made some significant progress towards achieving these capabilities, notably by testing Extended Range Cannon Artillery in December which can hit targets as far as 43 miles away.