JUST IN: Army to Deliver Precision Strike Missile to Soldiers by End of Year

By Laura Heckmann

Lockheed Martin image

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — A shifting focus aligned to near peer competition has brought integrated fires and surge capacity to the forefront for the Army's Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, one of its leaders said Sept. 26.

Col. Guy Yelverton, project manager for the Integrated Fires and Rapid Capability Office at the office, said the updated focus on integration stems from a need to use more weapons in more ways to support the joint force.

“Integrated fires [is] the coordinated use of multiple sensors, effectors, and mission command systems to maximize their collective effects to support joint all-domain operations,” he said during a keynote speech at the National Defense Industrial Association’s FUZE/FFC/DEMIL conference in Huntsville, Alabama Sept. 26.

"Effectors" is military-speak for "weapons."

One of those weapons is the Precision Strike Missile, designated as a modernization priority by Army leadership. The surface-to-surface ballistic missile is envisioned as having a range of some 500 kilometers and replaces the Army Tactical Missile System. It has an open architecture that the Army says will allow future increments to hit targets on the move.

Currently in production,  said the first missiles will be delivered before the end of the calendar year as it undergoes its first production qualification test in November.

“And then we'll deliver those first missiles right after that to the warfighter on our urgent capability acquisition pathway,” he said. The Army recently told National Defense that initial operating capability is scheduled for the second quarter of fiscal year 2025.

Meanwhile integrated fires is not a merger, Yelverton said. It’s “bringing all our capabilities to bear on the enemy at once.”

“It provides us that agile, versatile, efficient and responsive capability to the warfighter so we can take our various products and put them together in different ways in an integrated fashion to get out after providing new dilemmas for the adversary.”

Accomplishing that will be a combination of solving new problems, rethinking old ones, and support from workforce and industry, he said.

“And it's through that empowered and professional acquisition workforce that we get this done,” he said. “Providing innovative concepts and products and ways to put them together, and changing architectures as we need to, that integrates that offensive and defensive fires.”

But the office is going to need more than innovation to get weapons into the hands of soldiers, he said. They’re also going to need the ability for surge capacity.

Near peer competitors and great power competition are driving this need, he said. “That’s come back into play.” As a result, Yelverton said PEO Missile and Space has realigned their portfolio “to get after these problems and increase speed of delivery.”

This includes reexamining their requirements process and a shifting focus from multiple, separate offices focused on one system toward a focus on integration and integrated fires, he said. “We've taken a major departure from our previous processes in our culture and ensuring that we drive towards integrated fires.”

Six project offices within PEO Missiles and Space cover 41 different programs of record, he said. The office utilizes authorities provided by Congress to the secretary of defense in the forms of middle tier acquisition, such as rapid fielding or rapid prototyping, he added.

“We've even used the urgent capability acquisition pathway to provide capability to the warfighter as fast as possible,” he said.

The office is already focused on increased production capacity with examples such as the Javelin system and Patriot missiles, but it’s not enough, he said.

“We need to provide that capability. When the capability’s getting used, the ability to surge our production capacity isn't there as easily as we want it to be,” he said. “And so we're out there looking for different ways, creative ideas of how do we surge capacity in a moment's notice on systems that need time to build. They have long lead times for electric components that build up into the subcomponents and they put together with the missile or build rocket motors.”

The government is looking at the problem, as well, through “many different studies of how do we provide surge capacity. That is one area that we need to continue to think about as we look at not just increasing our production capacity, because that’s one aspect of it, but how do we respond to urgent requirements in the future?”

The workforce is part of it, he said. “Probably the most important thing in order for me to deliver — I need a talented workforce across all aspects of the acquisition community.”

“So talent management is … probably right now one of the most important things we're working on within the PEO next to delivery,” he said, along with integrated fires.

“The [integrated fires] concept that the boss has for how we're going to take our products and provide them to the warfighter, so that they can continue to use them in new ways.”

Yelverton boiled down the purpose of PEO Missiles and Space to three objectives: delivering, managing talent and integrating.

Topics: Emerging Technologies

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