Lockheed Martin plans to test fire the first army Tactical Missile System (TACMS) equipped with a penetrator re-entry vehicle later this year as the company looks for development work to sustain the programme following cancellation of the Northrop Grumman Brilliant Anti Armour (BAT)-equipped Block 2 variant.

The Tactical Missile System Penetrator (TACMS-P) is a joint army/navy advanced concept technology demonstrator aimed at defeating hard and deeply buried targets. This is intended to lead to a follow-on US Army programme in 2004 to modify 180 Block I ATACMS missiles with penetrator warheads, replacing bomblets. Half the missiles will also receive a new solid-rocket motor to extend the missile's range beyond the current 230km (124nm).

Lockheed Martin hopes the US Navy share in ACTD funding, along with development of a new 500km-range motor, could lead to development of a naval version of TACMS-P equipped with an independent re-entry vehicle. The USN has an outstanding advanced land attack missile requirement and considered a Naval TACMS variant before a 1998 decision to buy a land-attack derivative of the Raytheon Standard missile, which was cancelled.

TACMS proponents claim that the semi-ballistic missile offers a low-cost and higher-speed alternative to the planned Raytheon Block IV Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile. The navy has spent study money looking at arming its four planned SSGN converted Trident submarines with the missile. The navy plans to place up to six vertical-launch cruise missiles in the Trident launch tubes, but with fin modifications a similar number ofTACMSs couldbe accommodated.

The missile has achieved some export success, but the newer Block 1A version's GPS-satellite navigation guidance system limits its releasability for export.

Source: Flight International