The US Army has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to upgrade the MGM-140 army tactical missile system (ATACMS).
Under the terms of the $78m agreement, the company will use hardware from early production ATACMS Block 1 missiles to develop an enhanced and affordable weapon system that can destroy targets without the risk of unexploded ordnance, which meets the army's long-range precision-strike requirement.
The programme's first phase will include flight tests, followed by production starting in 2016.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Tactical Missiles vice-president Ken Musculus said: "ATACMS is extremely reliable and effective, and has proven itself over and over again in combat.
"These upgrades ensure ATACMS is ready to meet our customers' needs now and in the future."
Designed by Ling-Temco-Vought and manufactured by Lockheed, ATACMS is a tactical long-range precision-strike, surface-to-surface missile, designed to provide operational commanders with immediate firepower during combat operations.
Packaged in a guided-missile launch assembly pod, it is fired from the multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), including the M270 MLRS and the high-mobility artillery rocket system.
To date, Lockheed has manufactured more than 3,700 ATACMS missiles, with 560 of them fired in combat, demonstrating high rates of accuracy and reliability.
In addition to the US, the missile is also in service with the armies of Bahrain, Greece, China, South Korea, Turkey, and the UAE.
The upgrade work is scheduled to be carried out at the company's facilities in Camden, Arkansas, and Dallas, US.
Image: An ATACMS missile flying from its launcher during a test. Photo: © 2015 Lockheed Martin Corporation.