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M30 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)

The Army's ability to protect itself from long distance attack has been eroded with the proliferation of long-range rocket and cannon systems. To counter this, the US Army Missile Command's Research, Development and Engineering Center, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, with support from private industry, began working on a GMLRS to replace the basic (M26) and ER-MLRS (M26A2) rockets. GMLRS extends the range of MLRS fires to more than 60 kilometers and substantially improve MLRS accuracy. GMLRS provides the same lethality as the M26 and M26A2 with far fewer rockets.

The Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) consists of two variants of rockets fired from the M270A1 or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers. The GMLRS Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) variant carries 404 bomblets, while the M31A1 (Unitary) rocket has a single, 200-pound class, high-explosive, Unitary warhead. Both variants use an inertial measurement unit guidance system that is aided by the Global Positioning System.

With the planned capabilities of the rockets, the Army intended that a unit equipped with GMLRS would shoot farther (over 60 km versus 30 km) and achieve desired effects with fewer rockets (due to improved accuracy) and fewer duds (for GMLRS DPICM) or reduced collateral damage (for GMLRS Unitary) than the currently fielded MLRS rocket. GMLRS is used primarily in general support of maneuver divisions and corps. GMLRS DPICM is employed against lightly armored, stationary targets such as towed artillery, air defense units, and communication sites.

The Cluster Munitions Policy Memo (19 June 2008) directed that after 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.

M26 (DPICM)32.5km360,1920
M26A2 (DPICM)45.0km3,9240
M30 (DPICM)70.0km1,9140
M31A1 (Unitary)70.0km204 33,000

US production had been scheduled to begin in FY02 with a planned buy of approximately 100,000 rockets. During a 22 October 2009 review, the Army acquisition chief, Dean Popps, and other top officials decided to temporarily delay production of the DPICM version of the munition, instead buying only the GPS-guided unitary variant in the near term. According to MLRS Program Manager Col. Dave Rice, "We are building all Unitary MLRS rockets until production cut-in of the AWP rocket, which we anticipate in FY '14,". Rice added "We are right now in the process of building the very last DPICM rockets... These rockets are the last U.S. Army DPICM rockets as well as those the [United Arab Emirates] ordered. So, by about Thanksgiving, the U.S. Army is out of the DPICM rocket business." About 2,500 DPICM rockets would remain in the U.S. inventory until the AWP rockets become available, tentatively expected in Fiscal 2015.

MLRS Smart Tactical Rocket (MSTAR)

The Fiscal Year 2001 Army budget request included decisions to restructure or "divest" a number of programs in order to provide some of the resources to support its transformation to achieve the ambitious deployment goals outlined in the October 1999 Army Vision. The restructured programs are the Crusader and the Future Scout and Cavalry System. The "divestitures" include Heliborne Prophet (Air), MLRS Smart Tactical Rocket (MSTAR), Stinger Block II, Command and Control Vehicle (C2V), Grizzly, Wolverine, and the Army Tactical Missile System Block IIA. Funding for these programs was reallocated to fund the Army Vision transformation strategy.

The MLRS Smart Tactical Rocket was the next step in the evolution of the MLRS Rocket. The MSTAR was to be a Guided (MSTAR) rocket carrying terminally guided, smart submunitions to a maximum range of approximately 60 km. After dispense, these munitions would use onboard sensors to detect and engage stationary or moving targets. An Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) was scheduled to begin in FY98, followed by EMD beginning in FY02.

Four candidate submunitions, P3I BAT, SADARM, LOCAAS, and Damocles are being evaluated to determine which one best meets Army requirements. Each candidate carries a sensor suite to detect, classify and engage high value targets. They use either explosively formed penetrators or shaped charges to penetrate armor.

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