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M39 Army Tactical Missile System (Army TACMS)

The Army Tactical Missile System (Army TACMS) is a family of long-range, near all-weather guided MGM-140 missiles fired from the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M270 launcher and deployed within the ammunition loads of corps MLRS battalions. The Army TACMS provides the joint task force (JTF) and corps commanders an operational fires capability for precision engagement of the enemy throughout the depth of the battlefield beyond the range of currently fielded cannons and rockets. It delays disrupts, neutralizes or destroys high payoff targets such as combat maneuver units, surface to surface missile units, air defense units, command/ control/ communications [C3] sites and helicopter forward area rearming/ refueling points [FARP].

The Block IA was an upgrade intended to double the range of the current Army TACMS Block I missile. Army TACMS Block IA will dispense M74 Anti-Personnel, Anti-Materiel (APAM) bomblets, as does the Block I. The Army TACMS Block IA's ability to engage the enemy at extended ranges will reinforce the dominant maneuver force by helping the JTF commander shape the battlespace.

The genesis of Army TACMS can be traced to the "Assault Breaker" technology demonstration program begun in 1978 by the Defense Research Projects Agency. Formally started in 1983 as the Joint Tactical Missile System, the project combined two earlier studies-the Army's Corps Support Weapon System and the Air Force Conventional Standoff Weapon-into a joint program. Following the end of Air Force on-site participation in 1984, the Army continued the program and changed the name. Army TACMS was the first weapon system to be fielded in the modernization program for a "system of systems" deep fires suite. It saw combat action in Southwest Asia (SWA) during Operation Desert Storm (ODS).

One of the outstanding success stories of Desert Storm, fielding of the Army TACMS was accomplished ahead of schedule in August 1990 using the initial operational test and evaluation (IOTE) unit, the 6/27th Field Artillery (FA) Battalion from Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The unit was initially deployed to SWA with the XVIII Airborne Corps, but A Battery, one of the unit's two Army TACMS-capable firing batteries, was later placed under the operational control of VII Corps. It was this battery which on 18 January 1991 launched the first two Army TACMS missiles ever to be fired in combat. Production of the system was accelerated in order to meet the ODS requirement. A total of 105 Army TACMS missiles were deployed to SWA, 32 of which were successfully fired against surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites, logistics sites,artillery and rocket battery positions, and tactical bridges. According to LTG Thomas J. Kelly, Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the Army TACMS in SWA was "...spectacularly successful. We...[used] it in certain efforts which [were] extremely high priority. It ...really delivered."

Through the cooperation and dedication of the Army TACMS Project Office, the prime contractor, and the contracting officer, Army TACMS production was accelerated to support ODS. On 15 September 1990, the production contract was modified to accelerate the delivery of 20 M39 Guided Missile and Launching Assemblies from CY 1991 to CY 1990. The contract was modified again on 28 January 1991 to accelerate delivery of another 48 M39s to be completed by May 1991. When Operation Desert Shield began in August 1990, the Army only had 20 Army TACMS missiles in its inventory. By the end of the ground war, however, LTV [the prime contractor] had assembled and shipped 105 missiles to the Middle East.

Between August 1990 and February 1991, LTV also responded on short notice to multiple requests to accelerate deliveries of Army TACMS spare parts and divert shipments of M39s for delivery to SWA in support of ODS. In addition, the contractor provided support to the Army Depot in Germany so that checkout and repair of the M39s could be accomplished quickly and returned to Saudi Arabia with minimal delay. Not only were the aforementioned accomplishments achieved with a system in an early production phase but this successful effort was completed without sacrifice to the reliability and integrity of the missile system. In fact, the Army TACMS proved to be one of the most outstanding high- tech systems deployed to SWA.

By March 2016 Lockheed Martin had restarted its Tactical Missile System (TACMS) production line at the company’s facility in Camden, Arkansas. For more than 20 years, TACMS (formerly ATACMS) was assembled on-budget and on- or ahead of schedule at the company’s facility in Horizon City near El Paso, Texas. In order to consolidate all of Lockheed Martin’s Precision Fires missile and rocket production at its Camden Operations, TACMS production was temporarily suspended in 2014 and relocated to Camden. AN RFI was looking at sustained annual production rates of 200 ATACMS with an option to surge to 320/year.

“Restarting the TACMS production is excellent news for our customers seeking deep precision fire support,” said Ken Musculus, vice president – Tactical Missiles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “This production re-start will yield greater flexibility and significant cost-savings on a program with a rich history of reliability, affordability and mission success.”

TACMS is a combat-proven precision deep-strike system with readiness rates exceeding 98 percent since the program’s initial fielding in 1990. Providing quick-reaction firepower with ranges up to 300 kilometers, the TACMS missiles can be fired from the entire family of MLRS launchers, including the lightweight High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Each TACMS missile is packaged in an MLRS launch pod and is fired from the MLRS family of launchers. TACMS is the only long-range tactical surface-to-surface missile ever fired in combat by the U.S. Army. Almost 600 TACMS have been employed to date, with the system demonstrating extremely high rates of combat accuracy and reliability.

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Page last modified: 12-08-2019 11:09:12 ZULU