M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a highly mobile artillery rocket system that offers MLRS firepower on a wheeled vehicle, making it an ideal system for the medium-weight brigades under the new Army Vision. The HIMARS launcher, a wheeled vehicle, is lighter in weight compared to the MLRS M-270 launcher. It weighs approximately 15 tons, compared to 27 tons for the M-270.
The HIMARS provides a lightweight, C130 transportable version of the M270 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) launcher. Mounted on a 5ton family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) truck chassis, it will fire any rocket or missile in the MLRS family of munitions [MFOM]. The HIMARS fires either six MLRS rockets or one Army Tactical Missile. The HIMARS launchers have some commonality with its older and heavier tracked cousins, the M270 and M270A1 launcher systems. The HIMARS design concept includes the familiar launcher module, fire control, and digital command and control systems, and a self-reload capability. The HIMARS uses the same command, control, and communications, as well as the same crew, as the MLRS launcher but carries only one rocket or missile pod. It can roll on and off a C130 transport aircraft and, when carried with a combat load, is ready to operate within 15 minutes of landing. Because of the lighter weight of using one pod rather than two, it has a faster time, compared to the M270, from the point the fire mission is received to the actual munition firing.
HIMARS is based on the need for a lighter weight, more deployable MLRS that can be sent anywhere in the world to provide the maneuver commander lethal, long range fires at the very beginning of a conflict. HIMARS was designed and produced by the Army to support its Early Entry Contingency forces and its Light/Airborne/Air Assault Divisions with long-range, general support rocket and missile indirect fires. HIMARS battalion, (3x6) is organic to FA brigades in support of light, airborne, and air assault Divisions. HIMARS is fully interoperable with and use the same existing command and control support systems as the M270 and the M27OAl launcher. HIMARS utilizes the standard Army Logistical Support System. The purpose of HIMARS is to engage and defeat tube and rocket artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and personnel carriers. It also supports troop and supply concentrations. Deployment of HIMARS makes it very difficult for an enemy force to launch a counter attack. HIMARS is able to launch its weapons and move away from the area at high speed before enemy forces are able to locate the launch site.
The HIMARS (launcher) consists of a carrier (automotive portion) and a Fire Control system (FCS) that computes all fire mission data and a Launcher-Loader Module (LLM) portion that performs all operations necessary to complete a fire mission. The HIMARS also conducts reload operations with the use of a reload arm assembly. HIMARS retains the same self-loading and autonomous features installed on the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The Improved Launcher Mechanical System (ILMS) upgrade and electronics of the Improved Fire Control System (IFCS), implemented onto MLRS M270 launchers, is standard equipment on production HIMARS vehicles. HIMARS' fire control system, electronics and communications units are inter-changeable with the MLRS M270 A1 launcher. The crew and training are the same as the current system. The launcher unit is equipped with an onboard land navigation system. This allows the crew to remain within the safety of the armored cabin while accurately monitoring their position.
HIMARS is operated by a crew of three - a driver, gunner and section chief - but the computer-based fire control system enables a crew of two or even a single soldier to load and unload the system. The fire control system includes video, keyboard control, a gigabyte of program storage and global positioning system. The fire control computer allows firing missions to be carried out in automatic or manual mode.
The HIMARS is mounted on the Army's new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) 6x6 all-wheel drive 5-ton truck supplied by Stewart and Stevenson, Texas. This system uses a wheeled transport vehicle versus the tracked transport system of MLRS. The HIMARS vehicle carries a single six-pack of rockets and weighs approximately 24,000 pounds compared to the 12 rockets and more than 44,000 pounds for the MLRS M270 launcher. A HIMARS section consists of a launcher, two resupply vehicles (RSVs) and two resupply trailers (RSTs). The RSV is a medium tactical vehicle truck with an onboard Hiab crane and secure radio communications. The RST is a standard M1095 5-ton trailer. Both the RSV and RST can carry two rocket or missile launch pods.
The first firing was successfully conducted on 20 May 98, at White Sands Missile Range. Two single-rocket missions were fired at 90 degrees azimuth (left side), one at 51 degrees elevation and the other at 11 degrees elevation. After verifying data collection and safety, a three round ripple was fired at 90 degrees left azimuth at each of the two elevations. Preliminary data and physical examination indicate nominal performance by the launcher, with no noted malfunctions or damages.
The second firing iteration was conducted on 27 and 28 May 98. On the 27th, two three-round ripple missions were fired, followed by a six-round ripple. All three missions were at 90 degrees azimuth (left side) and approximately 22 degrees elevation. In the six-round mission, fuzes were set and warhead event was successful on all rockets. On 28 May, a single rocket, a three-round ripple and a six-round ripple were fired at 60 degrees azimuth (left side) and 22 degrees elevation. Preliminary data and physical examination indicate nominal performance by the launcher, with no noted malfunctions or damages.
Only MLRS M28 practice pods were fired and all launches were fired from the side of the HIMARS prototype launcher. The maximum range of the initial rocket firing was 35 KM. The second rocket fired flew at a minimum range of 17 KM. The initial ripple firing consisted of three rounds fired at a range of 35 KM and the second ripple firing at a range of 17 KM. All test objectives were met.
The highly successful HIMARS Program received strong support from the Army's senior leadership and the United States Congress. The HIMARS Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Program, which supported the Rapid Force Projection Initiative Advanced Technology Demonstration (RFPI ACTD), formally transitioned into the HIMARS Maturation/Acquisition Program. The program's number one goal was to quickly field the first HIMARS battalion by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2004.
Three deployable HIMARS prototypes were built and delivered to 3/27th FA FORT BRAGG, NC. 3/27th FA manned a fully deployable HIMARS platoon and received New Equipment Training (NET). The platoon participated in the Rapid Force Projection Initiative/Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (RFPI/ACTD) at Ft Benning, GA in FY98. The three prototypes were delivered to the unit six months prior to the start of the RFPI/ACTD field exercise to allow time for NET and platoon certification.
The three prototype Launchers assigned to the 18th Corps Artillery at Fort Bragg, NC remained on station in support of the RFPI two year Extended User Evaluation (EUE) program. The daily use and assessment of these mission capable prototype launcher systems has been an invaluable source of information to the MLRS PMO on the prototype system performance.
On 22 December 1999 Lockheed Martin Corp., Missiles & Fire Control-Dallas, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $2,000,000 increment as part of a $68,320,142 cost-plus-award-fee contract for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) for a lightweight launcher, which is C-130 transportable. The contractor will deliver six maturation launchers under this contract. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX (87.2%) and Camden, AR (12.8%), and was expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2002. This is a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 1, 1999. The U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (DAAH01-00-C-0002).
Army and Congressional interest in HIMARS resulted in FY99/00 budget increases that accelerated to FY05 the First Unit Equipped (FUE) date to the XVIII Airborne Corps (Ft. Bragg) from MAR 2005.
The success of several High Mobility Artillery Rocket System tests conducted at White Sands in October 2000 took the Army one step closer to meeting its transformation goals. A total of 18 extended range MLRS rockets were successfully fired from the HIMARS on Oct. 1 and 2. An Army Tactical Missile System Block IA missile also was successfully fired from the HIMARS on Oct. 11. The next phase in testing for HIMARS was to test out the maturation launcher or Engineering Manufacturing Development launcher, which arrived in November. The first (vehicle) was a demonstration type vehicle. This next one was the launcher that is actually going to be developed for the Army and Marines. Testing on this new vehicle was conducted from November 2001 through April 2002.
HIMARS wrapped up its engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase in late 2002. In April 2003, Lockheed Martin received a contract to begin Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of HIMARS for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. During LRIP the Army plans to buy 89 HIMARS launchers and the Marines will buy four launchers. Total joint procurement of the system is expected to be more than 900 launchers.
According to the DOT&E, the launcher chassis, RSV, and RST are mature, fielded, production vehicles, and the Hiab crane is a commercial item. Ninety-five percent of HIMARS software is common with the fielded M270A1 launcher, and the 1QFY04 ESIT will test an engineering release of MLRS/HIMARS software Version H. All but one of the Fire Control System line replaceable units are common with the M270A1, and that HIMARS launcher interface unit has completed system integration testing. HIMARS successfully fired all of the fielded MLRS family of munitions in qualification tests and demonstrated timeline and interoperability key performance parameters during the FY02 ESIT. However, the low-cost fire control panel developed by the M270A1 program experienced problems when initially fielded, and its requalification forced a 3-week delay to the HIMARS launcher upgrades. The low cost fire control panel and an improved weapons interface unit developed for firing Guided MLRS rockets were included in the fall 2003 testing.
A HIMARS Project Office accuracy analysis of HIMARS flight test results suggested that there is no statistically significant difference in the accuracy of basic rockets fired from a HIMARS launcher and those fired from an M270 MLRS launcher. DOT&E will conduct its own analysis of data from flight tests with LRIP configured launchers.
HIMARS is susceptible to ground attack and counterfire. Since the HIMARS cab does not provide ballistic protection for the crew, the crew must rely on concealment between missions, and rapid displacement after missions, to survive. The HIMARS initial operational test, scheduled for 4QFY04, included a counterfire threat.
In November 2004, the HIMARS system completed the third and final test and developmental phase. Results from these evaluations were used by the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (for the HIMARS system evaluation report) and ARL (for the human factors evaluation) in support of the Milestone C decision for full-rate production that occurred in June 2005. The HIMARS program is in Full Rate Production (FRP) and awarded the FRP-3 contract December 2007. On 12 April 2007 Lockheed Martin began full-rate production of the HIMARS launcher at its manufacturing facility in Camden, Ark.
In June 2005 HIMARS entered active service with the U.S. Army's 18th Airborne Corps located at Fort Bragg, NC [the Army had planned to equipe its first MLRS unit with HIMARS in March 2005]. By the end of 2009 about 250 HIMARS units had been produced for the Army and Marine Corps with eight battalions fielded to the Army (four active and four National Guard) and two battalions to the Marine Corps (one active and one Reserve). The New Hampshire National Guard was the last unit to be fielded. Since 2005, HIMARS has provided support in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and is a key component in overseas contingency operations. Its six-pack system launches the Multiple Launch Rocket System family of rockets and missiles, and is designed to support Joint Early and Forced Entry Expeditionary Operations with high-volume destructive, suppressive and counter-battery fires.
HIMARS follow-on Horizontal Technology Insertion (HTI) efforts include the Increased Crew Protection, Enhanced Command and Control, Improved Initialization, and Long Range Communication.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|