US Army hones in on solution for new mid-range missile pursuit

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army's new medium-range missile pursuit will be finalized by the Bureau of Rapid Skills and Critical Technologies by the end of the year, the Defense News director said in an interview prior to the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference.
The service is aiming to deploy the selected missile in less than three years - by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023 - which means it cannot start from scratch, Lt. Gen. James Thurgood said.
"Maybe you can take something that's already in the [science & technology] world and do something with it," he said. "You may be able to take an existing joint service program and do something with it. There are many options. I don't think 23 is an unrealistic result."
The RCCTO received the mission in July following a strategic fire study conducted by the Army's development arm earlier this year. The development team had found a loophole in the service's ability to reach enemy targets within a range of 500 to 2,000 kilometers.
Defense News first covered the Army's plan to track down the medium-range missile in September.
"We've had it, you know about a hundred days. But we're very limited to some very specific sets of solutions right now," Thurgood said, "trying to figure out, OK, what is it? If we do that, what are the rest of the things that we have to do? I think we're relatively close to that result. "
Thurgood said once the army chooses a material solution it will remain in the classified area "for some time". The service plans this approach "until we are sure we are on the right track and the technology we need is protected. We will be pretty careful."
The medium-range missile will fit into the Army's fire portfolio between its precision impact ammunition, which is designed to hit targets up to 499 kilometers, and ground-launched hypersonic missiles.
"We need to move quickly and make 23 a year that will change everything in both Europe and the Pacific," said Brig. General John Rafferty, who is responsible for modernizing the Army's long-range precision fire told Defense News in an interview last month.
"You can see in the Pacific where that would be so valuable if you had the medium-range capability to attack maritime targets," he added. And in Europe, "you keep your opponent's assets at great risk".
An extensive portfolio of range capabilities in the Pacific offers a wide range of options as there are so many different locations for missiles to be launched. Mixing and matching areas from a variety of locations "creates an incredible dilemma for the enemy," Rafferty said.
The RCCTO is also leading the development and deployment of a ground-based hypersonic capability for the army. The army and navy carried out a successful flight test of their jointly developed hypersonic glide body in March.
The next flight test will take place in the third quarter of fiscal year 21, followed by a second flight test in the first quarter of fiscal year 22 and a third flight test in the third quarter of fiscal year 22, Thurgood said.

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