In more than a decade of fighting Afghanistan, American troops have become painfully aware of how hard it can be to uproot an enemy hiding behind rocks, in buildings or other cover, especially over long distances.
Mostly armed with M-16 rifles and M-249 machine guns firing small .223-caliber bullets, troops regularly found themselves outgunned by the Taliban and other militants. With few other options, many units turned to the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile launcher.
Laser guided and with a range of more than 2,700 yards, the Javelin could get at deeply dug-in opponents and avoid hitting unintended buildings nearby. The missiles can fly in a straight line – and into narrow spaces like windows – or shoot up to a higher altitude and drop down on targets behind obstacles.
But despite these qualities, co-designers Texas Instruments and Martin Marietta had not crafted the missile with these sorts of targets in mind. That’s why the Army announced Nov. 24 that it’s looking for new super missile that can blow up armored vehicles and kill enemy soldiers equally.
Blandly titled the Precision Shoulder Launched Missile, the ground combat branch wants a single weapon that can meet five different “lethality” goals and hit its mark more than 1,000 yards away, according to the official notice.