DOT&E Director, Operational Test & Evaluation  
FY98 Annual Report
FY98 Annual Report


Army ACAT III / IC Programs: Prime Contractor
Total Number of Systems:
Extended Range (ER):

Lockheed Martin Vought Systems
Total Program Cost (TY$):
Extended Range (ER):

Average Unit Cost (TY$):
Extended Range (ER):

Full-rate production:
Extended Range (ER):

Low-rate Production:
Extended Range (ER):

Service Certified Y2K Compliant


The Extended Range (ER) rocket is an enhanced version of the current rocket fired from the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The ER rocket is expected to have a range of 45 kilometers or greater, compared to the fielded rocket's 31.5 kilometers. The ER rocket, like the current rocket, is designed to be used against soft, stationary targets. The overall length and diameter will not change. As with the current rocket, an MLRS launcher will carry twelve ER rockets.

Extended range is achieved by reducing the number of bomblets (from 644 to 518) and increasing the propellant in the rocket. The bomblet pattern size is also being increased, which will decrease the bomblet density. A zero-force detent modification that adds a small explosive charge to cut away the rocket's restraining bolts, provides a "soft" launch and is intended to help maintain accuracy at the extended ranges.

In addition, a modification of the bomblet is expected to reduce the number of hazardous duds on the battlefield. Both the current and ER rockets deliver Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) bomblets. The modified ER bomblet has a redundant fuzing system with the addition of a self-destruct device. The bomblet modifications are not expected to affect the bomblet's lethality.

The Guided MLRS (GMLRS) rocket adds a GPS-aided inertial navigation unit to the ER rocket, intended to greatly improve accuracy and increase range. DPICM bomblet payload is expected to be reduced from 518 to about 440. GMLRS has been an Advanced Technology Demonstration program (ATD) since 1994.

The ER and GMLRS rockets provide commanders an operational fire capability for precision engagement of the enemy throughout the depth of the battlefield beyond the range of currently fielded cannons and rockets. The targets include multiple rocket launchers, towed artillery, air defense units, and command/control/communications sites. The ER and GMLRS rockets' ability to engage the enemy at extended ranges supports the Joint Vision 2010 dominant maneuver force by helping the commander shape the battlespace.


The need for the ER and GMLRS rockets is based on the experiences of Operation Desert Storm and the continued threat of the proliferation of longer-range artillery systems. ER-MLRS is an ACAT III program. Engineering and Manufacturing Development began in November 1992, and a full-rate production decision was scheduled for late FY99. An LRIP was approved in May 1996; contingent on additional testing discussed below.

A new Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) was approved in March 1998 that re-structured the MLRS rocket programs. Under this new plan, there will be no Milestone III full-rate production decision in the ER program. LRIP will continue until FY01, when GMLRS will be cut into the production line. To provide an interim capability to U.S. Forces, Korea, approximately the first 3000 of the ER rockets will be fielded with the original M77 DPICM bomblet, rather than the XM85 bomblet with the self-destruct fuze.


Developmental testing of the ER rocket in 1998 included a Design Verification Test (DVT) of six rockets to demonstrate corrections to earlier problems with the self-destruct fuze. These firings were conducted in March and April at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) at short (16 km), medium (26 km), and long (48 km) range with temperature conditioning of cold, ambient, and hot.

A Production Qualification Test (PQT) of 24 LRIP ER rockets was conducted in April and June at WSMR to demonstrate improved accuracy with a new version of the ballistic algorithm. Earlier testing had revealed a range bias in which most rockets landed past the target. These firings were also conducted at cold, ambient, and hot temperatures over ranges from 34 to 49 kilometers. DVT and PQT results are summarized in the next section.

Testing in the GMLRS program included completion of three flights in the ATD program. These ATD flights are to demonstrate a guidance and control package that is capable of achieving a 2-mil accuracy with inertial-only guidance, and a 10-meter Circular Error Probable (CEP) with GPS-aided inertial guidance. The remaining two ATD flights are scheduled to be completed by early FY99. The first flight tests of GMLRS prototypes begin in FY00.


The ER-MLRS TEMP was approved in May 1996. A new TEMP is now needed to align the T&E program with the new acquisition plan described in the March 1998 APB.

The ER program has two critical operational issues (COIs): munition effectiveness against specified targets, and a hazardous dud rate of less than 1 percent. At the time of the May 1996 LRIP decision, DOT&E determined that the LRIP exit criteria for effectiveness was not met for two of the three required targets, but could likely be achieved if an obvious range bias was corrected. However, the PQT testing in 1998 failed to demonstrate the required accuracy. Additional testing is planned.

The hazardous dud rate at the end of PPQT testing in 1996 was about 2.6 percent, compared to a requirement of 1 percent or less. The 1998 DVT tests demonstrated an improved hazardous dud rate of 0.7 percent among almost 3000 bomblets over a range of distances and temperature conditioning. These results should reduce risk for the GMLRS rocket, since its DPICM bomblets will use the same improved self-destruct fuze.

The GMLRS TEMP, approved by DOT&E in March 1998, has a rigorous T&E program that takes advantage of modeling and simulation to evaluate targets and conditions not tested in the IOT&E. For the first time in a fire support program, the TEMP includes targeting and command and control in a COI. This was a significant achievement that should make the GMLRS IOT&E a better end-to-end system evaluation.


Early and active DOT&E involvement in the GMLRS program led to the opportunity to shape the development of the ORD and critical operation issues and criteria. This will provide better linkage from T&E to the key user requirements and will help ensure an end-to-end evaluation of the total system.

Return to Table of Contents

Join the mailing list