FIELD ARTILLERY AND MORTAR SYSTEMS
The Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) provides counterfire, suppression of enemy air defenses and destruction of light and personnel targets. The MLRS delivers large volumes of firepower in a short time against critical, time-sensitive targets. The basic rocket warhead carries dual-purpose, improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions. The MLRS, however, is capable of supporting and delivering all of the MLRS family of munitions (MFOM), including the Army tactical missile system (ATACMS) variants. Growth programs are under way to extend the range and accuracy of rockets and missiles and to upgrade the launcher fire-control and mechanical systems.
The U.S. initial operational capability for the MLRS was achieved in 1983. Starting in FY 1989, the MLRS has been coproduced by the United States, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. As of June 8, 2004, the United States had procured 880 M270-family and 52 high-mobility artillery system (HIMARS) launchers.
Two parallel enhancement programs have been directed toward the M270 tracked MLRS launcher: the M270 improved position determining system (IPDS) and the M270A1 upgrade.
The M270 IPDS program was an interim upgrade applied to a select number of launchers to provide the ability to fire the longer-range GPS-aided ATACMS Block IA, quick reaction unitary and Block II missiles until sufficient M270A1 launchers are fielded. The modification kit features the IPDS line replaceable unit (LRU) with an embedded GPS receiver. The new LRU replaces the improved stabilization reference package/positioning determining system (ISRP/PDS) LRU found in the current M270 launchers. Other components of the IPDS modification include a 4-mega-byte electronics unit (twice the M270's capacity); GPS antenna, data transfer device and associated cables; expanded hoist bumpers for ATACMS Block IA missile pod hang angles; and additional training and maintenance equipment.
Lockheed Martin is under contract and has incorporated two new upgrades to the current MLRS system. 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 allows for more sophisticated munitions and reduces operating costs. The IFCS upgrade includes a new fire-control panel with video, a full keyboard, a gigabyte of program storage and GPS navigation. With distributed multiprocessor technology, the IFCS is able to process large blocks of data from new smart munitions within tactical time lines. Operating and maintenance costs are reduced by 38 percent because of the greater reliability and ease of repair on IFCS parts. The new system meets requirements for the first digitized corps and allows for future growth, being capable of firing future munitions and having a greater capacity to expand situational awareness.
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 current M270 launcher, with reload time decreased by more than 38 percent.
Crew and launcher survivability are greatly enhanced by decreasing total exposure time on the battlefield. The new system reduces operations and support (O&S) costs by 38 percent while incorporating state-of-the-art electronics and embedded global positioning and inertial navigation systems.
Procurement of the M270A1 began in 1999. A confidence demonstration was successfully completed in 2000. Systems integration testing and extended systems integration testing of software were successfully completed in 2001, with all exit criteria being met or exceeded.
In 2000, the Army accepted delivery of the first M270A1 low-rate initial production (LRIP) launcher. To date, five MLRS battalions have been equipped with M270A1 launchers. The entire MLRS family of munitions, including the MLRS M26 rocket, extended-range rocket, reduced-range practice rocket, guided MLRS rockets, ATACMS Block I, ATACMS Block IA, ATACMS Block II and ATACMS quick-reaction unitary have been successfully fired from the M270A1. …