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The US Army’s Mid-Range Capability (MRC) missile system has made its first overseas deployment, the service announced on 15 April 2024.

The army’s 1st Multi-Domain Task Force (1MDTF) deployed the MRC system to Northern Luzon in the Philippines on 11 April as part of Exercise ‘Salaknib 24’.

The 1MDTF’s MRC is a versatile ground launch system that enhances multi-domain fires, with the MRC launcher able to fire the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6), which can be used as an anti-air warfare, terminal ballistic missile defence or anti-ship weapon, as well as the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM). The full configuration of an MRC battery comprises a battery operations centre, four launchers, prime movers and modified trailers.

Covering a journey of more than 8,000 miles in over 15 hours, the MRC system reached the Philippines aboard a C-17 Globemaster III airlifter. The deployment, undertaken in conjunction with the pilots and flight crew of the US Air Force’s 62nd Airlift Wing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, “showcases the extensive reach and logistical precision of the Joint Force and represents a significant achievement for the air force, marking the first time the service has flown the exquisite capability”, the US Army stated in a press release.

“This is a significant step in our partnership with the Philippines: our oldest treaty ally in the region,” Brigadier General Bernard Harrington, commanding general of the 1MDTF, was quoted as saying. “We’re grateful to our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and we’re excited to expand our security co-operation as we bring this new capability to Luzon. This creates several new collaboration opportunities for our bilateral training and readiness; we look forward to growing together.”

‘Salaknib 24’ directly supports the US Indo-Pacific Command and US Army Pacific efforts in enhancing bilateral US land power capacity and capabilities for joint operations. It is designed to bolster the US Army’s collective readiness with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and strengthen the US-Philippine alliance.

The MRC deployment has drawn criticism from China, since the 1,700 km range of a TLAM puts the Chinese coast easily within range of an MRC system in Northern Luzon.

“China firmly opposes this and will take resolute countermeasures,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a news conference on 12 April. “We urge the United States to genuinely respect the security concerns of other countries and stop undermining regional peace and stability.”

Lockheed Martin was selected to produce the MRC system in November 2020 and delivered the first MRC battery to the US Army at the end of 2022.

A Mid-Range Capability (MRC) launcher from Charlie Battery, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, Long Range Fires Battalion, 1st Multi-Domain Task Force, arrives as part of the capability’s first deployment into theatre on Northern Luzon in the Philippines on 7 April 2024. The MRC deployment aimed to enhance Philippine maritime defence capabilities while bolstering interoperability and readiness within the US-Philippine alliance. (Photo: US Army)