|US Army PAM fails to impress during tests
The US Army's PAM missed four of six shots during a key test event
Service planners are exploring new 'path-ahead options' for the missile, which is estimated to cost USD480,000 per unit
The US Army's Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) precision attack missile (PAM) struggled significantly during a recent test that was intended to inform an upcoming acquisition decision.
The PAM scored two hits and four misses in a 'flight limited users test' that concluded in early February. The event was held in the run up to a Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition review, scheduled for late March, to measure the weapon's progress and readiness to enter low-rate production.
A DoD briefing slide on the test's results shows a PAM in its laser designate mode successfully hit a stationary T-72 tank and one in laser-anoint mode hit a moving tracked infantry vehicle. Both shots were fired at a range of 15 km.
A PAM in laser-designated mode missed a stationary tank from 20 km when incompatible firing data caused it to go into an unarmed safe-mode, and another shot in laser-designated mode missed a stationary truck from 35 km due potentially to motor problems, the document said.
In its infrared mode PAM missed a moving infantry vehicle from 10 km for reasons yet unknown. A stationary tank with jamming capabilities was missed from 30 km when a circuit card that controlled canard movement was thought to have failed, according to the slide.
Another Pentagon document obtained by Jane's set the programme's baseline cost at a total of approximately USD480,000 per missile. This figure includes items such as training and logistics support but is relatively high compared to current, though less advanced, systems like AGM-114R Hellfire missiles that have a total procurement cost this year of about USD105,000 per unit, according to budget documents.
Army spokesman Paul Mehney told Jane's the service is reviewing PAM's test results and plans to brief Pentagon weapons buyers on a "path-ahead option" for the programme based on technological maturity, on operational standpoints and on affordability. Mehney said options could include moving ahead as planned, modifying the programme or even cancelling it.
NLOS-LS is meant to provide infantry, as well as sailors on Littoral Combat Ships, with the ability to engage moving targets from beyond their line of sight.
The system was developed by NetFires - a Raytheon/Lockheed Martin joint venture - to function on a network as part of the now-cancelled Future Combat Systems (FCS) programme. The missile systems are planned to continue as part of the Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (E-IBCT) Modernization effort that is set to begin fielding in 2011.