As 2008 winds down and '09 ramps up, the Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems Project Office is living up to its name -- Precision.

"We are ceasing the procurement of Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions after deliveries of work in progress," project manager Col. Dave Rice said. "We are also pursuing technologies that will meet the requirement to engage broadly dispersed area targets."

An Army Configuration Steering Board has resulted in the release of a request for proposal for two or more competing contractors to provide Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Alternative Warhead technology solutions.

"The procurement ceasing action lines up with the DoD policy on cluster munitions and unintended harm to civilians," Rice said. "And the warhead action means that we expect to receive proposals next month, with a Milestone A decision before the end of March."

Then a 20-month prototyping effort with two contractors begins.

"The intent is to put those two competing warheads in 10 to 12 rockets, shooting and measuring them at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico," Rice said. "Then we would select the best product for engineering and manufacturing."

The Alternative Warhead Initiative is a materiel change. That is, rocket motor and the guidance control section remain the same.

"We will take out the 400 DPICM grenades from the payload section, replacing them with the technologies that will produce the desired effects on area targets," Rice said. "Earlier we canvassed industry, finding that 19 modeling and simulation technologies existed. So we have a pretty good idea of what the industrial capabilities are."