Artillery / Multiple rocket launchers / MLRS

MLRS

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Multiple rocket launcher

  • ORIGIN
    United States

  • NICKNAMES
    M270 (US service)
    298 RsRakH (Finnish service)
    LRM / Lance-Roquettes Multiples (French service)
    MARS / Mittleres Artillerie Raketen System (German service)
    Menatetz (Israeli service)

  • DESIGNED
    1977

  • DESIGNER
    Vought Corporation

  • PRODUCTION
    1980 - 2003

  • PRODUCERS
    Germany - Diehl
    United States - Lockheed Martin

  • QUANTITY
    About 1.300 launchers and over 700.000 rockets produced

  • UNIT COST
    About $ 2.3 million per launch unit
    About $ 100.000 per ATACMS missile

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Long range and good accuracy
    Variety of rocket types available
    Good all terrain mobility
    Operated under armor
    Small crew
    Large and heavy
    Expensive

Introduction

The MLRS is a multiple rocket launcher of US origin. It was developed in the late 1970's to meet a joint US, UK, German and French requirement. The name MLRS stands for Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Layout

The MLRS is based on a tracked chassis with a forward control cab that houses the crew of three. The trainable launcher is mounted at the rear and is loaded by two blocks of rockets. Each block contains six unguided or guided solid fuel rockets or a single ATACMS missile. Additional ammunition is carried on all terrain trucks, such as the US HEMTT.

Firepower

The standard 227mm unguided rockets have a 32 km range and feature dual purpose submunitions. Extended range rockets have a 45 km range. Guided rockets are available with submunition or unitary warhead and with ranges of 60 or 90 km. Optionally two ATACMS missiles are carried which have a 300 km range.

Protection

The MLRS is operated and reloaded from under full armor protection. The armor protects the crew from small arms fire, shell splinters and the launch blast. NBC protection is standard.

Mobility

The tracked chassis provides a good off road capability and reasonable road speeds at 64 km/h. A 500 hp turbo diesel provides propulsion. The size and weight makes that the MLRS can only be transported by air in tactical airlift systems.

Users

The main user of the MLRS is the United States. It was adopted by a variety of European nations and various other US allies worldwide. Many systems in Western service have been adopted to launch the newer guided rockets. The MLRS system is being supplemented by the newer and more mobile HIMARS system.

Variants

M270 launch vehicle

The MLRS uses a track launch vehicle with a chassis derived from the M2 Bradley mechanized infantry combat vehicle. The launch vehicle may load two MFOM packs with either six 227mm rockets or a single ATACMS missile.

M270: Original MLRS system with 4 minute reload time.
M270A1: Improved MLRS system with reload time decreased to 3 minutes.

  • Specifications:
  • MLRS
TypeMultiple rocket launcher
Crew3
Length6.97 m
Width2.97 m
Height2.62 m (travelling), 5.93 m (launcher raised)
Ground clearance0.43 m
Weight20.2 t empty, 25.2 t combat load
Ground pressure?
WheelbaseTracked chassis, 6 roadwheels, drive sprocket front, idler rear, 4.33 m length, 0.53 m width
Turn radius?
EngineCummins VTA-903 8-cylinder diesel, 500 hp at 2.400 rpm
Power ratio19.8 hp/t
Transmission?
Speed64 km/h
Fuel617 L
Range480 km
Wall1 m
Trench2.3 m
Gradient60% gradient, 40% slope
Fording1.1 m
Armor?
NBC equipmentYes
Night vision?
SmokeNo
Remarks-
ArmamentMFOM rocket launcher (2x)
Weapon1MFOM rocket launcher
12x 227mm rocket or 2x ATACMS
Weapon2-
Weapon3-
Weapon4-
Weapon5-
Weapon6-

MFOM

The MLRS may fire the MFOM series of artillery rockets. MFOM stands for MLRS Family Of Munition. The MFOM reload containers carry six 227mm rockets or a single ATACMS missile.

M26: Original standard multi-purpose rocket with 644 M77 Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) sub-munitions.
M26A1: Improved multi-purpose rocket with M85 submunitions and longer range.
M26A2: M26A1 using the older M77 submunitions.
M30: Guided MLRS (GMLRS) with GPS guidance, further increased range and 404 M85 submunitions.
M31: Guided MLRS with unitary HE explosive warhead to reduce collateral damage.
AT2: European development with 28 scatterable anti-tank mines.
M27: Fully inert training pod.
M28: Practice rocket based on M26. Carries smoke markers instead of submunitions.
M28A1: Reduce range practice rocket with 9 km range.

TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter227 mm body
Length3.937 m
Weight306 kg
GuidanceUnguided, ballistic flight
Warhead156 kg with 644 M77 submunitions
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Range31.6 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter227 mm body
Length3.937 m
Weight296 kg
GuidanceUnguided, ballistic flight
Warhead518 M85 submunitions
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Range45.5 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter227 mm body
Length3.937 m
Weight302 kg
GuidanceGuided, GPS navigation
Warhead404 M85 submunitions
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Rangeover 60 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks10 m CEP
TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter227 mm body
Length3.937 m
Weight?
GuidanceGuided, GPS navigation
Warhead>90 kg HE unitary warhead
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Rangeover 60 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks2 m CEP
TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter227 mm body
Length3.935 m
Weight258 kg
GuidanceUnguided, ballistic flight
Warhead108 kg with 28 AT2 anti-tank mines
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Range39 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks2 km by 115 m minefield with 12 rockets

ATACMS

The Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles are large solid fuel missiles with a much longer range and larger payload than the 227mm models. A M39 pack with single ATACMS can be loaded instead of a normal MFOM pack with six 227mm rockets.

MGM-140A ATACMS Block I: Original model with 165 km range, inertial navigation and 950 M74 anti-personnel and anti-materiel (APAM) grenades.
MGM-140B ATACMS Block IA: Extended range model with 300 km with GPS guidance and range reduced payload of 275 M74 APAM grenades.
MGM-164A ATACMS Block II: Extended range model with 13 Brilliant Anti-Tank (BAT) guided submunitions. Was briefly known as MGM-140C, with improved Block IIA model named MGM-140D. The BAT program was cancelled in 2003.
MGM-168A ATACMS Block IVA: Standard range model with unitary warhead and GPS guidance. Was briefly known as MGM-140E. Operational since 2002.

TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter0.61 m body, 1.4 m finspan
Length3.962 m
Weight1.670 kg
GuidanceGuided, inertial navigation
Warhead591 kg with 950 M74 APAM bomblets
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Rangeover 165 km maximum
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter0.61 m body, 1.4 m finspan
Length3.962 m
Weight1.320 kg
GuidanceGuided, inertial navigation and GPS
Warhead160 kg with 275 M74 APAM bomblets
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Range70 km minimum, 300 km maximum
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter0.61 m body, 1.4 m finspan
Length4.0 m
Weight1.480 kg
GuidanceGuided, inertial navigation and GPS
Warhead13 BAT submunitions
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Range300 km maximum
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeArtillery rocket
Diameter0.61 m body, 1.4 m finspan
Length4.0 m
Weight?
GuidanceGuided, inertial navigation and GPS
Warhead227 kg WAU-23/B unitary HE
PropulsionSolid propellant rocket motor
Speed?
Range140 km maximum
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-

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