MLRS

The Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is a highly mobile, automated system that fires surface-to-surface rockets and missiles from the M270 family of launchers. MLRS launchers and rockets are now in the inventories of (or have been ordered by) France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Greece and South Korea. M270 launchers offer manpower savings, massive firepower and survivability due to their armor and «shoot and scoot» capability.

MLRS was very successful in Operation Desert Storm (Photo by Lockheed Martin)
MLRS was very successful in Operation Desert Storm (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

The M270 launcher is designed so its three-man crew can drive to a firing site, stop, conduct one or more fire missions and quickly depart the firing site without ever leaving the cab. An entire 12-rocket load can be ripple-fired in less than one minute, and the crew of three can rapidly reload with two six-pack launch pod containers. Each rocket is quickly and automatically fired by the fire control system, which re-aims the launcher after each shot.

The launcher also contains its own position determining system, which enables the crew to know where it is at all times and eliminates the necessity of firing from surveyed positions. This armored, tracked mobile launcher uses a stretched Bradley A3 chassis and gives the MLRS cross-country capability comparable to that of the Abrams M1A2 tank.

Twelve MLRS rockets can be fired in less than one minute by the three-man crew
Twelve MLRS rockets can be fired in less than one minute by the three-man crew

 

MLRS M270A1

Lockheed Martin, under contract to the U.S. Army, completed an upgrade of more than 220 launchers to M270A1 in 2005. The new M270A1 launcher appears identical to existing M270s, while incorporating an Improved Fire Control System (IFCS) and an Improved Launcher Mechanical System (ILMS).

The IFCS upgrade includes a new fire control panel with video, a full keyboard, additional program storage and GPS aided navigation. In addition, with distributed multiprocessor technology, the IFCS processes large blocks of data from new precision munitions within tactical timelines. Operating and maintenance costs are reduced because of greater reliability and ease of repair on IFCS parts.

The ILMS dramatically reduces the time needed to aim and reload the launcher. In a typical fire mission, the ILMS-equipped launcher is six times faster than the M270 launcher. Reload time is decreased by more than 30 percent. Crew and launcher survivability is greatly enhanced because total exposure time on the battlefield is significantly reduced. The M270A1 launcher, featuring improved survivability, reduced operating cost, increased munition options and GPS-aided navigation, was combat proven in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

M270A1 launchers feature improved survivability, reduced operating cost, increased munition options and GPS navigation
M270A1 launchers feature improved survivability, reduced operating cost, increased munition options and GPS navigation

M270A1 Advantages:

  • Greatly increased responsiveness;
  • 83 percent reduction in aim time;
  • 38 percent reduction in reload time;
  • 38 percent reduction in O&S (Operations and Support) costs;
  • Embedded GPS/INS (Inertial Navigation System);
  • Advanced fault isolation capability;
  • Combat proven and survivable.

 

International M270 Upgrades

Lockheed Martin delivered the first MLRS M270B1 to the British Army in September 2006. Like the MLRS M270A1, but modified to meet unique British requirements, the M270B1 is a highly mobile, armored, automated system that fires surface-to-surface rockets and missiles. In fact, the M270B1 enhanced armor package, protected its crew from a direct IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attack during operations in Iraq.

Since that time, Lockheed Martin has continued to offer M270 upgrades to meet other countries’ specific requirements. Lockheed Martin is under contract to upgrade MLRS M270 launchers for a number of countries, including Finland, Japan and the United Kingdom. The M270 upgrade is intended to provide the capability to fire precision munitions, mitigate obsolescence, reduce sustainment cost and enhance reliability. Additional changes the host country chooses to incorporate into the launcher can be completed at the same time.

 

HIMARS

The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a wheeled launcher that delivers a lethal mix of precision munitions on the U.S. Army’s FMTV (Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles) 5-ton truck. HIMARS carries a single six-pack of MLRS rockets or one ATACMS missile. HIMARS is designed to launch the entire MLRS family of munitions, including the transformational GMLRS and all ATACMS variants. HIMARS became a joint system when the U.S. Marine Corps joined the program in 2000. Approval to enter production was received in March 2003. HIMARS is currently in full-rate production.

High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is the newest member of the MLRS launcher family
High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is the newest member of the MLRS launcher family

Under contract to the U.S. Army, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 400 HIMARS launchers to the Army, Marine Corps and international customers. In May 2005, the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery became the first unit equipped with HIMARS. Since then the Army has fielded eleven additional battalions, in both active and National Guard units. The Army plans to field an additional six battalions. Additionally, the Marines have fielded more than 38 launchers. HIMARS has expanded its global presence and has begun to serve the international market, including such countries as Jordan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

HIMARS rolls off a C-130 combat loaded and delivers GMLRS and ATACMS munitions with pinpoint accuracy. The combat-proven HIMARS provides increased responsiveness, increased crew protection and increased effectiveness against time-critical targets, and supports conventional and Special Forces operations around the globe.

One Block IA Unitary missile per HIMARS launcher
One Block IA Unitary missile per HIMARS launcher

HIMARS Features:

  • Supports lighter, more mobile fighting forces;
  • C-130 transportable (combat loaded);
  • Uses MLRS tactics, training and munitions;
  • Three-man crew;
  • Heavyweight fire support for early entry and light forces;
  • Maximum commonality with M270A1;
  • Will replace select M198 Cannon and M270 units.

 

RRPR

The MLRS Family of Munitions includes three rockets and four missiles with an additional six variants in development. This MFOM (MLRS Family of Munitions) meets the complete Army requirement for tactical and operational support.

Reduced-Range Practice Rocket
Reduced-Range Practice Rocket

Reduced-Range Practice Rocket (RRPR) Features:

  • Training rocket capable of being fired at all U.S. ranges;
  • Maximum range 15 km;
  • Warhead bay ballasted with non-explosive material.

 

GMLRS

The Guided MLRS Unitary is a product improvement of the GMLRS rocket that accommodates a unitary payload. The GMLRS Unitary is an approved Army requirement that provides the user with a capability to destroy critical point targets that require low collateral damage. The program complements GMLRS area precision with a GMLRS point target capability.

GMLRS has a range of 70 kilometers. The system incorporates a GPS-aided inertial guidance package integrated on a product-improved rocket body. Small canards on the guided rocket nose provide basic maneuverability and enhance the accuracy of the system. The GMLRS modular design facilitates future growth.

Guided MLRS Unitary Rocket
Guided MLRS Unitary Rocket

Guided Unitary integrates a 196 pound/89 kg unitary warhead into the GMLRS giving battlefield commanders the ability to attack targets up to 70 kilometers away with high precision. This warhead has a trimode fuze which allows point, delay and proximity modes. This low cost/risk program greatly reduces collateral damage by providing a one round, one kill capability.

GMLRS is the precision missile of choice for ground forces the world over. Today in the CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) theater, Soldiers, Marines and our UK counterparts are using the Guided MLRS Unitary Precision Guided Missile in urban operations with incredible effectiveness. The ability of GMLRS to deliver within meters is a huge advantage that has gained notoriety among maneuver commanders – both senior and emerging. More than 3,000 GMLRS Unitary rounds have been fired in combat by U.S. Army, USMC (U.S. Marine Corps) and U.K. forces. The system is one of the leading products in the U.S. arsenal for reliability. Lockheed Martin’s Camden production facility has produced over 25,000 GMLRS rockets for U.S. and allied forces. It is the commander’s weapon of choice, engaging time-sensitive targets while minimizing collateral damage and protecting innocent civilians.

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a 36-month EMD (Engineering and Manufacturing Development) contract to integrate and test a GMLRS Alternative Warhead. The new capability will achieve same wide area effects as DPICM (Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition), but not leave behind unexploded ordnance. EMD will focus on system performance, warhead qualification and producibility. The GMLRS supports the U.S. Army’s Future Force with increased overmatch capabilities and reduced logistics footprint over current free-flight rockets. GMLRS is fired from the Multiple Launch Rocket System M270A1/B1 and the HIMARS launchers. GMLRS is an international cooperative program among the United States, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Other international customers are: Bahrain, Japan, Jordan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Several other allies are evaluating GMLRS for future buys.

GMLRS provides the warfighter a surgical strike capability and effects that are ideally suited for current combat operations in complex environments
GMLRS provides the warfighter a surgical strike capability and effects that are ideally suited for
current combat operations in complex environments

GMLRS Features:

  • Six GMLRS Unitary or Alternative Warhead rockets per pod;
  • Overwhelming support to Combat Forces;
  • Minimizes collateral damage;
  • Greatly reduced logistics;
  • In full-rate production;
  • 5 nation international cooperation program;
  • Minimizes collateral damage in urban, counter insurgency operations;
  • Fired from the M270A1 or HIMARS launcher system;
  • All weather, surgical precision;
  • More than 3,000 GMLRS Unitary rockets fired in combat.

 

Guided MLRS Unitary Rocket Specifications

Length 13 ft/3.96 m
Diameter 9 in/0.23 m
Payload 200 lb/91 kg warhead
Range 43.5 miles/70 km
Guidance GPS-aided Inertial Guidance Package

 

ATACMS

The ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) Block IA Unitary configuration employs an upgraded guidance and control system, new software and an improved fuze. These upgrades provide a vertical impact capability that increases the reliability, accuracy and lethality of the missile while reducing collateral damage. This configuration is fielded by the U.S. Army and several allied countries. ATACMS is a long-range, guided missile that gives commanders the immediate firepower to shape the battlespace. Each ATACMS missile is packaged in a Multiple Launch Rocket System look-alike launch pod, and is fired from the MLRS family of launchers. ATACMS is the only long-range tactical surface-to-surface missile ever employed in combat by the U.S. Army. More than 540 ATACMS have been fired, and the system has demonstrated extremely high rates of combat accuracy and reliability.

Army Tactical Missile System Block IA Unitary
Army Tactical Missile System Block IA Unitary

Long-Range Precision Tactical Missile System Features:

  • The Block IA Unitary delivers a monolithic high explosive warhead using GPS guidance and has a range of 300 kilometers.
  • The Block IA Unitary has vertical impact capability, and collateral damage is much less than 100 m from the point of impact.
HIMARS carries a one ATACMS missile on the Army's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) 5-ton truck
HIMARS carries a one ATACMS missile on the Army’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) 5-ton truck

 

ATACMS Specifications

Length Approximately 13 ft/3.96 m
Diameter Approximately 24 in/0.61 m
Range 300 km
Propellant Solid fuel rocket motor
Guidance Inertial Navigation with GPS
Warhead WDU18, 500 lb/227 kg class blast fragmentation warhead
Load Two missiles per M270A1 launcher
One missile per HIMARS launcher

 

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