The high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) is the newest member of the multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) family. HIMARS is a highly-mobile artillery rocket system offering the firepower of MLRS on a wheeled chassis. HIMARS was developed by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control under an advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) programme, placed in 1996.
In January 2000, Lockheed Martin was awarded an EMD (engineering and manufacturing development) contract to provide six HIMARS launchers. A further two HIMARS launchers were ordered under a two-year user evaluation programme for the US Marines Corps.
In March 2003, the US Army and Marine Corps signed a contract for the low-rate initial production (LRIP) of 89 launchers for the Army and four for the USMC. A second LRIP contract was awarded in January 2004 for 25 launchers for the army and one for the USMC. A third was awarded in January 2005 for 37 launchers for the army and one for the USMC. A total procurement of 900 launchers is planned.
n November 2004, HIMARS successfully completed initial operational test & evaluation (IOT&E). Three prototype HIMARS launchers were successfully used in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
HIMARS entered service in June 2005 with the 27th Field Artillery, 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The first full-rate production contract was awarded in December 2005.
HIMARS is also in service with 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery Tennessee National Guard, 158th Field Artillery Oklahoma National Guard (both since 2006) and 5th battalion, 3rd Field Artillery, Fort Lewis (since November 2007).
The first US Marine Corps battalion equipped with HIMARS, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, was deployed to Iraq in July 2007.
In September 2006, the United Arab Emirates requested the foreign military sale (FMS) of 20 HIMARS launchers plus munitions including 101 ATACMS block 1A, 101 ATACMS block 1A Unitary, 104 MLRS, 130 GMLRS and 130 GMLRS unitary rocket pods.
In January 2007, Lockheed Martin was awarded a further contract for 44 HIMARS systems for the US Army and 16 for the USMC, for delivery by 2009. In January 2009, a contract for 64 launchers (57 for the US Army and 7 for the USMC) was placed for completion by March 2010.
In September 2007, the US Congress was notified of the proposed sale to Singapore of 18 HIMARS launchers plus 32 Unitary GMLRS pods and 30 MLRS practice rocket pods.
The purpose of HIMARS is to engage and defeat artillery, air defence concentrations, trucks, light armour and personnel carriers, as well as support troop and supply concentrations. HIMARS is able to launch its weapons and move away from the area at high speed before enemy forces are able to locate the launch site.
HIMARS fire control
HIMARS retains the same self-loading and autonomous features installed on the MLRS. The improved launcher mechanical system (ILMS) upgrade and electronics of the improved fire control system (IFCS), which upgraded MLRS M270 launchers are also fitted to HIMARS vehicles.
Lockheed Martins universal fire control system (UFCS), a further evolutionary upgrade of the fire control system, has completed development and qualification and from mid 2008 is being fitted to full-rate production HIMARS. Successful HIMARS test firings of the ATACMS missile (in March 2008) and GMLRS rockets (in May 2008) took place using the new GPS-guided UFCS.
HIMARS is operated by a crew of three - driver, gunner and section chief - but the computer-based fire control system enables a crew of two or even a single soldier to load and unload the system. The fire control system includes video, keyboard control, a gigabyte of programme storage and global positioning system. The fire control computer allows firing missions to be carried out in automatic or manual mode.
In a typical mission, a command and control post would transmit the selected target data via a secure data link to the HIMARS on-board launch computer. The computer then aims the launcher and provides prompt signals to the crew to arm and fire a pre-selected number of rounds. The launcher can aim at a target in just 16 seconds. It is possible for the crew to select preprogrammed multiple mission sequences which have been stored in the computer.
High mobility artillery rocket system munitions
In addition to the standard MLRS round, HIMARS is capable of launching the entire MLRS family of munitions, including the extended-range rocket, the reduced-range practice rocket and all future variants. HIMARS carries a single six-pack of MLRS rockets, or one army tactical missile system (ATACMS) missile.
The extended-range MLRS rocket (ER-MLRS) improves the basic M26 range of 32km to more than 45km and the area of influence by 107%.
The extension of the rocket motor has resulted in a reduction in the payload to 518 M85 grenades, but the dispersion of the grenades is improved for better effectiveness with fewer grenades.
In April 2004, HIMARS successfully test fired the new extended range guided rocket GMLRS, with a range of more than 70km.
The Lockheed Martin GMLRS rocket has a GPS (global positioning system) and inertial guidance package and small canards on the rocket nose to enhance accuracy. GMLRS completed System Development and Demonstration (SDD) tests in December 2002 and entered low-rate initial production in April 2003.
Initial operating capability (IOC) was achieved in 2006, but the system has been operationally deployed since September 2005 in Iraq. The GMLRS is an international programme involving UK, Italy, France and Germany as well as the US. The industrial team includes Diehl, MBDA and FiatAvio.
First deliveries of a unitary variant of GMLRS, with a single 81.6kg (180lb) warhead, developed by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, and a range of up to 70km were in May 2005. In October 2003, Lockheed Martin was awarded an SDD contract for 86 unitary variant rockets, delivered in June 2005. In June 2007, GMLRS Unitary entered low-rate initial production (LRIP).
HIMARS is capable of firing the long-range ATACMS (army tactical missile system) guided missile. The ATACMS family includes the Block 1, Block 1A and Block 1A Unitary missiles. The block 1 missile delivers 950 anti-personnel anti-material (AP/AM) baseball-sized M74 submunitions to ranges exceeding 165km.
The block 1A missile range exceeds 300km by reducing the submunition payload to 300 bomblets and adding GPS guidance. The Block 1A unitary missile, with a single-burst warhead, was first deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March / April 2003.
"HIMARS is capable of launching the entire MLRS family of munitions, including the extended-range rocket."
The program to develop the Block II missile, with GPS and 13 BAT (brilliant anti-tank) submissiles, and Block IIA missile, with six improved BAT submissiles, was cancelled in February 2003.
HIMARS carries a single six-pack of rockets on the army's family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) 6x6 all-wheel drive 5t truck supplied by Armor Holdings Tactical Vehicle Systems Division (formerly Stewart and Stevenson), Texas. The HIMARS vehicle weighs approximately 24,000lb compared to more than 44,000lb for the MLRS M270 launcher.
HIMARS is transportable on the C-130 aircraft, allowing the system to be moved into areas previously inaccessible to the larger C-141 and C-5 aircraft required for the M270 launch vehicle.
The M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (M270 MLRS) is a multiple rocket launcher, a type of rocket artillery.
The first rocket systems were delivered to the U.S. Army in 1983. The system is in widespread use in NATO countries and it has also been manufactured in Europe. Some 1,300 M270 systems have been manufactured, along with more than 700,000 rockets. The system has been used in the Gulf wars, where it proved itself as a practical and effective weapons system. The production of the M270 ended in 2003, when a last batch was delivered to the Egyptian army.
The system is capable of firing guided and unguided projectiles to a distance of up to 42 km (26.1 miles). Firing ballistic missiles, (such as the U.S. Army Tactical Missile System—ATACMS) it is capable of reaching out to 300 km (186 miles) with the warhead reaching a maximal altitude of ~50 km (164,000 ft). The M270 is a very mobile unit, thus well suited for the so called shoot-and-scoot tactic: it can fire its rockets very rapidly and immediately move away to avoid returning counter-battery fire.
MLRS was developed jointly by the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, and France. It was developed from the older General Support Rocket System (GSRS).
The rockets and ATACMS missiles are contained in interchangeable pods. Each pod contains six standard rockets or one guided ATACMS missile (the two types cannot be mixed). The launcher can hold two pods at a time, which it loads using an integrated crane. All twelve rockets or two ATACMS missiles can be fired in under a minute. One launcher firing twelve rockets can completely blanket one square kilometer with submunitions. For this reason, the MLRS is sometimes referred to as the "Grid Square Removal Service" (metric maps are usually divided up into 1km grids). The U.S. Army is currently working on developing and fielding unitary (one large warhead instead of submunitions) rocket and ATACMS variants, as well as a guided rocket.
MLRS has recently been upgraded with guided rounds. Phase I testing of a guided unitary round (XM31) was completed on an accelerated schedule in March 2006. Due to an Urgent Need Statement the guided unitary round has already been fielded and used in action in Iraq. Lockheed Martin also received a contract to convert existing M30 DPICM GMLRS rockets to the XM31 unitary variant
When first deployed with the U.S. Army, the MLRS was used in a composite battalion consisting of two batteries of traditional artillery (howitzers) and one battery of MLRS SPLLs (self-propelled loader/launchers). The first operational organic or "all MLRS" battalion 4th Bn, 27th FA started training in the winter of 1985 at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Alpha Battery, 4/27th FA (MLRS) was deployed en masse to Peden Barracks at Wertheim, West Germany in April of that year. "Sudden Impact" as it was known by its members fired its first rounds in theater and was considered operational by June of that year. Three other firing batteries soon joined. A btry 92FA(MLRS) Was deployed to the gulf war in 1989 from Ft.Hood Texas. 3/27th FA (MLRS) out of Ft. Bragg deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield in August of 1990. 6/27th FA (MLRS) deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield in October 1990, December 1990 1/27th FA (MLRS) part of the 41st BDE (Babenhausen,Germany) deployed, and 1/158th FA from Ft Sill deployed in January 1991. A Btry 6/27th FA was the first ground unit to fire in support of Operation Desert Storm, firing a missile at approximately 00:40 (12:40am) January 18. The 4/27th FA (MLRS) was deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield on Christmas Day 1990. In early Feb 91 1/27th FA launched the biggest MLRS night fire mission in history http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhScbwnZnJ0&feature=related. It has since been used in numerous military engagements including the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In March 2007 the British Ministry of Defence decided to send a troop of MLRS to support ongoing operations in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand; they will use newly developed guided munitions.
M993 Launcher specifications
* Entered service: 1982 (U.S. Army)
* First used in action: 1991 (First Gulf War)
* Crew: 3
* Weight loaded: 24,756 kg
* Length: 22 ft 6 in
* Width: 9 ft 9 in 
* Height (stowed): 2.57 m (8 ft 5 in)
* Height (max elevation): not available
* Max road speed: 64 km/h
* Cruise range: 480 km
* Reload time: 4 min (M270) 3 min (M270A1)
* Engine: Turbo-charged V8 Cummins VTA903 diesel 500 hp ver2.
* Crossdrive turbo transmission fully electronically controlled
* Average unit cost: $2.3 million[7
* Bahrain: Bahrain Army (9) (no longer in service)
* Denmark: Royal Danish Army (12) (no longer in service)
* Egypt: Egyptian Army (26) (no longer in service)
* Finland: Finnish Army (22)
* France: French Army (56)(no longer in service)
* Germany: German Army (called MARS Mittleres Artillerie Raketen System) (50+202)
* Greece: Hellenic Army (36)
* Israel: Israel Defense Forces (called "Menatetz" מנתץ)
* Italy: Italian Army (22)
* Japan: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (90)
* Netherlands: Royal Netherlands Army (no longer in active service; sold to Finnish Army) (30)
* Norway: Norwegian Army (12) (no longer in active service)
* South Korea: Republic of Korea Army (58+38)
* Turkey: Turkish Army (12)
* United Kingdom: Royal Artillery (67)
* United States: United States Army (840+151)
US military operators refer to the M270 as "the commander's personal shotgun" or as "battlefield buckshot." It is also commonly referred to as the "Gypsy Wagon", because crews store additional equipment such as camouflage netting, cots, coolers, and personal items on top of the vehicle as the launcher itself lacks adequate storage space for the crew. Within the British military a common nickname is "Grid Square Removal System." With the adoption of the new M30 GPS guided rocket it is now being referred to as the "70 kilometer sniper rifle.
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