HIMARS for rapidly deployable rocket and missile fires – high-mobility artillery rocket system

HIMARS for rapidly deployable rocket and missile fires – high-mobility artillery rocket system – Brief Article

Lawrence J. Abrams

In the early 1990s, the Army recognized a deficiency in supporting light and early entry forces with rocket and missile fires. The high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) was developed to meet the requirement for a lighter weight, more deployable rocket and missile system to provide the maneuver commander immediately responsive, long-range lethal fires.

HIMARS is strategically deployable and can be transported by C-130 aircraft for intra-theater deployment. It is based on the tracked M270A1 launcher system that is incorporated onto a family of tactical vehicles (FMTV) wheeled chassis.

HIMARS can fire all current and future rockets and missiles within thc multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) family of munitions (MFOM). MFOM gives commanders rocket fires ranging to 60 kilometers with the guided MLRS rocket (GMLRS) and missile fires up to 300 kilometers with the Army tactical missile system (ATACMS) Block IA. Unlike the tracked MLRS, HIMARS will fire one pod of either six rockets or one missile.

Supporting the launcher are two FMTV resupply vehicles (RSVs), each with a resupply trailer (RST). Both the launcher and the accompanying RSVs meet the requirements for C-130 transport.

History. In 1998, the Army launched the Rapid Force Projection Initiative Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (RFPI-ACTD) that resulted in the delivery of four HIMARS prototype launchers. This program experiments with mature technologies that promise to add significant operational capabilities and, when successful, insert them into selected forces.

The 3d Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment (3-27 FAR), part of the 18th Field Artillery Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has been employing three of the prototype launchers since September 1998. This unit has developed tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) for HIMARS and established and integrated a HIMARS platoon into its daily training plans. 3-27 FAR considers the platoon operationally deployable.

Additionally, 3-27 FAR has provided invaluable feedback on the system, influencing the production design. HIMARS prototypes’ success and the significantly greater firepower the systems provide 3-27 FA has convinced the Army leadership to retain the prototypes until HIMARS fielding in FY05.

In the next phase, six launchers will undergo complete operational testing. The actual launchers will resemble the prototypes only from the standpoint that both systems are based on a modified FMTV chassis. The launchers will be shorter than the prototypes and weigh almost 2,000 pounds less. They also will feature a new crew cab that incorporates design enhancements (25 separate changes) based on user input. During this phase, HIMARS will incorporate an improved fire control system (IFCS) that will enable the launcher to fire more MFOM missile variants.

Testing will include flight, road and cold region tests and culminate in an operational test with representative user soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2004.

In FY06, the Marine Corps will field HIMARS in its 14th Marine Regiment (US Marine Corps Reserve) headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. HIMARS will give the Marine FA a robust general support (GS) artillery capability.

HIMARS and Transformation. In October 1999, the Chief of Staff of the Army announced need HIMARS is clearly in line with his vision for Army transformation. HIMARS. as part of the Legacy Force, will serve as a bridge to and, ultimately, as part of the Objective Force, with developing technologies incorporated into future platforms.

As the Army continues to explore and develop technologies for the future combat systems (FCS), those technologies will be migrated into future HIMARS platforms. Also, the addition of sensor-to-shooter and shooter-to-shooter linkages will significantly improve the system’s responsiveness.

HIMARS is a key component of FA modernization, ensuring Army and Marine forces can rapidly deploy overmatching rocket and missile fires as the King of Battle.

COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Field Artillery Association

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group