M26 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)
The Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) provides the Army an all-weather, indirect, area fire weapon system to strike counterfire, air defense, armored formations, and other high-payoff targets at all depths of the tactical battlefield. Primary missions of MLRS include the suppression, neutralization and destruction of threat fire support and forward area air defense targets.
The Multiple Launch Rocket System is a versatile weapon system that supplements traditional cannon artillery fires by delivering large volumes of firepower in a short time against critical, time-sensitive targets. These targets often include enemy artillery, air defense systems, mechanized units, and personnel. MLRS units can use their system's "shoot and scoot" capability to survive while providing fire support for attacking manuever elements. MLRS is not intended to replace cannon artillery, but has been designed to complement it.
MLRS Operational Experience
MLRS performed extremely well in Operation Desert Storm (ODS) in which significant numbers of launchers were deployed. All operational requirement were met and, in most cases, exceeded levels for readiness, reliability and maintainability. MLRS was first fired in combat during Operation Desert Storm. The system's initial trial by combat occurred on the evening of 13 February 1991 somewhere near the Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait tri-border area when the 21st Field Artillery's Alpha Battery engaged in an artillery raid on targets in southern Iraq. The battery was used as a single firing unit, with all 10 of its MLRS launchers lined up along a 3-kilometer stretch. During the fight, more than 100 rockets were fired on several enemy positions in less than 1 minute.
During the course of the Persian Gulf conflict, Alpha Battery fired 550 rockets, the second highest MLRS battery in total missions and total rockets fired. The top MLRS battery in SWA was A Battery, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery (MLRS), Oklahoma Army National Guard which fired 699 rockets during the raids and actual ground war. In all, U.S. Army artillery units fired over 17,000 MLRS rockets against Iraqi howitzer and rocket battalions, air defense artillery (ADA) battalions, command and control facilities, and logistics facilities. The MLRS proved to be extremely effective and very dependable throughout the conflict in SWA.
British forces also fired the MLRS in combat for the first time during Operation Desert Storm. According to LTC Peter Williams, Commander of Britain's 39th Heavy Artillery Regiment in Saudi Arabia, "It's the decisive battle winner. We call ourselves the Grid Square Removal System because the rockets from each launcher can take out a square kilometer of the map." Perhaps the most telling moniker attached to this weapon system during the Persian Gulf crisis, however, was that coined by the Iraqi troops who had to endure long hours of bombardment by coalition MLRS units. Captured Iraqi soldiers referred to the grenades dispersed by the MLRS as "steel rain." The deadly downpour rapidly dampened the Iraqi will to fight, helping to blast a significant psychological breach in Iraqi defensive positions in Kuwait. This mental opening ultimately translated into droves of Iraqi soldiers who voluntarily surrendered rather than endure further punishment from the MLRS maelstrom.
The Cluster Munitions Policy Memo (19 June 2008) directed that a fter 2018, cluster munitions must not produce >1% UXO; a limit that will not be waived. It provided no differentiation between types of UXO (hazardous or non-hazardous duds). All cluster munition stocks that exceed operational planning requirements will be removed from the inventory as soon as possible, but not later than June 2009. The previous UXO Requirement: < 2% 20-60km; < 4% < 20km and > 60km. GMLRS DPICM with Self Destruct Fuze (SDF) development and performance demonstrated "hazardous" dud rate of only 0.15%, overall UXO 3.7%, which does not comply with the new DOD Policy.
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