HIMARS (high-mobility artillery rocket system) 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.
It was developed in 1996 by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control under an advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) programme.
HIMARS is intended to engage and defeat artillery, air defence concentrations, trucks, and light armour and personnel carriers, as well as support troop and supply concentrations. The system launches its weapons and moves away from the area at high speed before enemy forces locate the launch site.
HIMARS rocket fire control system
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 Martin’s universal fire control system (UFCS), a further evolutionary upgrade of the fire control system, has completed development and qualification. From mid-2008, it 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.
The high-mobility artillery rocket system is operated by a crew of three: the driver, gunner and section chief. However, the computer-based fire control system enables a crew of two or 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 (GPS). 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 pre-programmed 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. The high-mobility artillery rocket system 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%.
Extension of the HIMARS 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, an 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 the UK, Italy, France and Germany, as well as the US. The industrial team includes Diehl, MBDA and FiatAvio.
In May 2005, the first deliveries were made of a unitary variant of GMLRS, developed by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, with a single 81.6kg (180lb) warhead and a range of up to 70km. In October 2003, Lockheed Martin was awarded an SDD contract for 86 unitary variant rockets, which were delivered in June 2005. In June 2007, GMLRS Unitary entered low-rate initial production (LRIP).
Army tactical missile system (ATACMS)
HIMARS is capable of firing the long-range ATACMS (army tactical missile system) guided missile. The ATACMS family includes the Block I, Block IA and Block IA Unitary missiles. The Block I missile delivers 950 anti-personnel anti-material (AP/AM) baseball-sized M74 submunitions to ranges exceeding 165km.
The Block IA missile range exceeds 300km by reducing the submunition payload to 300 bomblets and adding GPS guidance. The missile, with a single-burst warhead, was first deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March and April of 2003.
The programme to develop the Block II missile with GPS and 13 BAT (brilliant anti-tank) submissiles and the Block IIA missile with six improved BAT submissiles was cancelled in February 2003.
The high-mobility artillery rocket system carries a single six-pack of rockets on the army’s family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) 6×6 all-wheel drive 5t truck supplied by Armor Holdings Tactical Vehicle Systems Division (now BAE Systems Mobility & Protection Systems) in Texas.
The vehicle weighs approximately 24,000lb (10,886kg) compared to more than 44,000lb (19,958kg) 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.
|Mass||35,800 lb (16,200 kg)|
|Length||7 m (23 ft 0 in)|
|Width||2.4 m (7 ft 10.5 in)|
|Height||3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)|
|Caliber||227 mm (8.9 in)|
|Rate of fire||1, 2, 4, All 6|
|Effective firing range||between 2 km (1.2 mi) and 300 km (190 mi)|
|Maximum firing range||300 km (190 mi)|
|480 km (298 mi)|
|Maximum speed||85 km/h (52.8 mph)|