The US M142 HIMARS MLRS Development
The US M142 HIMARS MLRS is an amalgamation of two existing US vehicles, the Lockheed M207 MLRS artillery system and the BAE Systems FMTV truck chassis. The vehicle has a higher level of mobility compared to the M207 MLRS, so is able to keep up with other rapid reaction forces wheeled vehicles and gives them the added bonus of rocket artillery support. HIMARS is nearly half the weight of the M207, which means it can be transported by the C-130 Hercules aircraft, allowing the HIMARS to be delivered and deployed in areas previously inaccessible to the M270 as it requires the larger C-141 and C-5 aircraft.
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 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. it was reported that evaluation vehicles were used in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
The US Army has over 50,000 FMTV trucks in service, so proved ideal for the systems launch platform. The HIMARS FMTV chassis is designated XM1140A1. HIMARS uses the same self-loading and autonomous features as the M207 MLRS in its launch platform and uses both the same Fire Control System and communications suite as the M207A1. These are all supplied and fitted by Lockheed Martin to the XM1140A1 chassis, once delivered to them by BAE Systems FMTV plant inTexas USA.
Increased Crew Protection (ICP)
The HIMARS ICP cab is designed to protect its crew from ballistic attack, mine blast, foreign object debris, and the toxic fumes associated with rocket launch. The ICP Cab is armored and has more than 40 enhancements from previous cab designs. The enhancements include: improved crew survivability, hatch and door ergonomics, cab entry and exit, pressurization and water entry sealing. In addition, composite materials were used to meet mission essential transportability requirements. ICP cabs have been built from scratch for new vehicles and purchased as appliqué upgrade kits since 2008, for existing un-armoured cabs already in service with the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps.
The ‘Hot Panel’ program is new to HIMARS since late 2009 and allows the vehicle to link into an aircraft’s GPS and track itself in the air, anywhere in the world. The advancement will allow Soldiers to switch between a land mode and an air mode so the vehicle tracking system can find its location and its targets rapidly when it exits an airplane.
“It allows you to start up the launcher in flight and roll off the airplane ready to shoot,” said Steve Coventry, system and test engineer at Lockheed Martin.
HIMARS is capable of launching the entire M207 MLRS family of munitions. HIMARS uses a single M270 MLRS rocket pod containing 6 tubes, or one army tactical missile system (ATACMS) 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 sub-munitions to ranges exceeding 165km. The block 1A missile range exceeds 300km by reducing the sub-munition payload to 300 bomblets and adding GPS guidance.
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%.
In April 2004, HIMARS successfully test fired Lockheed Martin’s new extended range guided rocket GMLRS, which has a range of more than 70km. The GMLRS rocket has a GPS (global positioning system) and inertial guidance package and small canards on the rocket nose to enhance accuracy. General Dynamics OTS developed a single 81.6kg (180lb) warhead, which is now in service.
HIMARS is operated by a crew of three – driver, gunner and section chief, but a crew of two or even a single soldier can load and unload pods in to the launcher.
The US M142 HIMARS MLRS Operators
USA – A total of 900 vehicles are to be delivered across multiple orders, which have so far averaged 100 vehicles a year since its entry in to service during 2005. The vehicles are fielded by the US Army, National Guard and U.S. Marine Corp.
US Army: 5th Bn, 3rd Field Artillery at Fort Lewis’ Yakima Training Center
US Army: 3rd Bn., 27th Infantry Regt., at Fort Bragg, N.C. was the first to receive the HIMARS in 2005
National Guard: 1st Bn., 181st Field Artillery of the Tennessee National Guard (fielded in 2006)
National Guard: 1st Bn., 158th Field Artillery of the Oklahoma National Guard (fielded in 2006)
The first US Marine Corps battalion equipped with HIMARS, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, was deployed to Iraq in July 2007.
This list has increased and will do so as more vehicles are fielded. However with the decision in 2010 to swap the production of FMTV vehicles from BAE to Oshkosh, (the US Government own the rights on the vehicle) there will be a gap in production of the HIMARS chassis which the Army have expressed their concern about in early 2010. A further concern is that BAE own the rights to the ICP cab and the standard cab which will be built by Oshkosh will not offer the same level of protection as BAE’s ICP cab for the crew.
Both the US Army & USMC have deployed the vehicle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Singapore – A total of roughly 20+ vehicles are being delivered. Singapore crews have been training on exercise Daring Warrior at Fort Sil in the USA during 2010.
United Arab Emirates – 20 vehicles are on order
Jordan – 12 vehicles