Lance is a surface-to-surface ballistic missile designed to provide greater support for Army divisions. It is about 20 feet long, 22 inches in diameter, weighs about 3,300 pounds, can carry a nuclear or conventional warhead and has a range of about 75 miles. The Lance was the first Army missile to use prepackaged storable liquid propellant.
The missile system briefly gained notoriety as the "neutron bomb," after the Washington Post reported on the Army's development of a warhead for the LANCE that would kill people but cause minimal destruction of property. The enhanced radiation warhead was designed to release within a restricted radius great quantities of neutrons which attacked the human central nervous system. The warhead would also reduce the heat and blast effects of conventional nuclear warheads, thereby reducing the destruction of buildings and collateral damage to civilian populated areas. Officials believed that the LANCE enhanced radiation warhead would deter a Soviet attack by threatening the USSR with a weapon that could be used without destroying the Federal Republic of Germany in order to save it. Congress approved production funds for the new warhead on 13 July 1977, but President Jimmy Carter deferred production of the neutron warhead in April 1978.
LANCE was deployed by the United States, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Belgium, and Great Britain. Lance was used as a target for anti-missile missile systems. At White Sands in 1987, the Flexible Lightweight Agile Guided Experiment (FLAGE) succeeded in scoring a direct hit against a Lance missile in flight.
Lance, initially called Missile "B," was a highly mobile, division support weapon system replacing the LACROSSE guided missile and the HONEST JOHN rocket. Early in 1962, contractors were asked to submit proposals for LANCE. Eight industrial proposals were received, and study contracts were awarded to Ling Temco Vought and to the Chrysler Corporation. In November 1962, Ling Temco Vought was selected as prime contractor for development and initial production of the LANCE missile system. It was first test fired at White Sands on March 15, 1965.
The LANCE was a mobile field artillery tactical missile system used to provide both nuclear and non-nuclear general fire support to the Army Corps. Designed to attack key enemy targets beyond the range of cannon artillery and to reinforce the fires of other artillery units, the LANCE replaced the HONEST JOHN system, fielded in 1954, and the SERGEANT system, deployed in 1962. It filled the U.S. Army's need for a highly mobile, medium-range, fin stabilized, all weather, surface-to-surface missile weapon system. The LANCE's primary mission targets included enemy missile firing positions, airfields, transportation centers, command and logistic installations, critical terrain features (defiles, bridgeheads, main supply routes, etc.), and large troop concentrations.
The missile was incrementally guided by a self-contained system using the Directional Control Automatic Meteorological (DCAM) Compensation concept. The LANCE missile was launched by a high thrust booster that propelled it out to 1500 meters. The boost phase direction was controlled by a gyro commanding secondary injection into the booster. The booster cut off and the variable thrust sustainer, controlled by an accelerometer, provided the exact amount of thrust to equal the missile drag. The result was a predictable trajectory that essentially eliminated errors caused by atmospheric disturbances or changes. The missile was aimed using field artillery techniques plus the variable booster time. Unlike other Army missiles that use solid propellants, the LANCE used a prepackaged, liquid fuel that eliminated any need for fueling in the field and gave the LANCE a short reaction time. It was capable of delivering nuclear warheads out to a range of about 75 miles and conventional warheads to a range of about 45 miles.
Established under the U.S. Army Ordnance Missile Command (AOMC) as the Missile "B" Project Office on 11 December 1961, the subsequently renamed LANCE was one of the original project management offices created with the activation of the U.S. Army Missile Command (MICOM) on 1 August 1962. The LANCE Missile System development began when MICOM issued a letter contract to Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), prime contractor for the system, on 11 January 1963. Four months later, on 24 May, MICOM definitized the original letter contract as a cost-plus-incentive-fee (CPIF) contract, the first ever applied to a major U.S. Army weapon system. This CPIF contract was also unique because it covered the entire research and development phase of the LANCE program, and was one of the first Army contracts "certified" for Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)-Cost.
A family of field artillery missiles designated "A" to "D" was proposed for development in the 1965-70 timeframe. Missile "B" was to deliver a 1000-pound nuclear, non-nuclear, or chemical warhead to a range of 75 kilometers. Accuracy was set at 5 mils to encourage a low unit cost of the missile. The technical approach of DCAM was a perfect fit. Dr. William C. McCorkle and Mr. R.G. Conard of the Ordnance Missile Laboratories (OML) at Redstone Arsenal invented the DCAM guidance system. This was the first and perhaps the only Army missile system based on an OML invention. The feasibility of the Automet was demonstrated by an experimental Missile "A" using a constant thrust booster with a variable aerodynamic drag missile. Missile "B" required the development of a unique variable thrust liquid engine. The technical recommendations in June 1961 were that this new engine be demonstrated before proceeding with a Missile "B" development program. On 9 May 1962, the Department of Defense (DOD) directed that the prime contractor for the Missile "B" development program be selected by 1 October 1962. On 1 November 1962, the Army selected the LTV team in Dallas, Texas, to do the work in the Michigan Army Missile Plant (MAMP). At this time, Missile "B" was renamed LANCE.
LTV immediately started the total system development with emphasis on meeting the schedule incentive for the first flight. Three LANCE missile configurations were planned for the development program: Engineering Model (EM) for development; Tactical Prototype (TP) for transition to production; and Production Model (PM) for hardtooled production line.
By April 1964, serious problems with the propulsion system caused the LANCE Project Office and LTV to put a team on-site at the subcontractor, Rocketdyne. The team identified technical and management problems involving more than propulsion, and corrective action was taken. The missile length had to be increased to compensate for reduced engine performance, while the schedule-driven program was changed to an event-driven logic using "Quantified Milestones" (QMs).
The first successful engine test occurred on 16 January 1965. The first flight test was conducted successfully on 15 March 1965. The LANCE DCAM concept was demonstrated by this flight, which experienced a 125-knot crosswind at apogee. Subsequent EM flights resulted in a test, fix, test approach. DOD moved LANCE from a Research and Development (R&D) category to one of General Purpose Forces in November 1965. The final block of six EM flight tests was completed successfully on 3 October 1966. The following month, recommendations for Limited Production (LP) were submitted to the Department of the Army (DA), which authorized LP procurement of 17 sets of ground support equipment (GSE) on 15 June 1967.
Studies in April 1965 showed that LANCE could extend its range to 75 miles by the use of a higher performance engine and larger fins, and by removing the ballast from the nuclear warhead. This meant that the Extended Range LANCE (XRL) could fill both the "B" and "C" missions. The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Research and Development) (ASA[R&D]) directed that the concept be demonstrated in time for an October 1966 XRL decision. Two experimental XRL missiles demonstrated the feasibility on 28 September 1966. DA approved development of XRL in March 1967. On 15 December 1967, the Secretary of the Defense directed that only the XRL configuration of LANCE be fielded.
The TP flight test program began in early 1967 with mixed results. The test program was halted on 20 October 1967 when the fifth TP missile blew up. A new diagnostic approach was developed to find the "Root Cause" of the failure. The failures were isolated to the most likely cause and the failure duplicated before the "Root Cause" was confirmed. Corrective action was then applied. The "Root Cause" of this failure was confirmed on 13 May 1968. The corrective action was appropriately known as SOS-Spring on Seal-to keep oxygen-rich gases from mixing with the hot, fuel-rich solid propellant gas generator gases. The new feed system was successfully flown on 30 August 1968 and subsequently certified by four more flights by March 1969.
The first XRL flight test was conducted successfully on 13 May 1969. However, on 11 July 1969, the XRL engine failed dramatically due to combustion instability. The diagnostic process was used to isolate the problem and then to direct the solution demonstrated on 24 October 1969. On 6 March 1970, the XRL maximum range and accuracy were successfully demonstrated. A senior In-Process Review (IPR) on 10 September 1970 recommended LP production of 75 missiles and cancelled the chemical warhead flights.
The first Engineering Test (ET)/Service Test (ST) failed on Friday, 13 August 1971. The "Root Cause" was a missile power interruption from the nuclear warhead. With corrective action, the flight tests continued until 30 November 1971, when a second nuclear warhead missile failed. This failure required a major redesign of the nuclear warhead circuitry. Another 12 missiles and 9 additional months were required to certify the redesign. A Production Validation IPR held on 9 May 1972 recommended Type Classification Standard "A" (TC-STD-A) for the LANCE missile and an extension of the nuclear warhead LP quantities based on ET/ST results. Following a subsequent IPR, the nuclear warhead was declared TC-STD-A on 16 April 1973.
The non-nuclear warhead program progressed slowly due to a continuing problem with an XM41 munition high dud rate such that in the latter part of FY 1969 the standard M40 munition was explored for use with LANCE. On November 1971, Congress cancelled all funds for the non-nuclear warhead. A restart of the program was authorized in January 1973. By April 1974, 10 flight tests had been completed, but a redesign and retest of the main fuze was required. In 1976, the production go-ahead for 360 missiles was received.
LANCE missile production was approved in September 1970, and the first battalion was fielded to the U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR) in September 1973. At that time, the system achieved its initial operational capability (IOC). Less than two years later, the first full-scale deployment of the LANCE to a foreign military sales (FMS) customer was accomplished. Once it was fully fielded, the Army had eight LANCE battalions, six in Europe and two in the United States. LANCE was also sold to NATO allies and to Israel in the non-nuclear version.
On 1 December 1970, the LANCE weapon system was elevated to a Class II activity assigned to U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) Headquarters, although it was still physically located at Redstone Arsenal (RSA). The project office returned to MICOM's jurisdiction on 1 August 1974. The LANCE Project Office was terminated on 31 March 1980, and responsibility for the missile system transferred to the MICOM Weapon Systems Management Directorate (WSMD). Level II management of the system was subsequently provided by the MICOM Missile Logistics Center (later the Integrated Materiel Management Center) from July 1981 until FY 1992. Responsibility for the demilitarization and reuse of excess LANCE assets was transferred to the reestablished MICOM WSMD in FY 1993.
The Lance was first deployed in 1972 for battlefield use against forward-positioned Warsaw Pact assets. In addition to the ground-based launching mode in which NATO had it deployed, the Lance may also be launched from a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. It may be equipped with either aconventional or a nuclear warhead. The yield of the nuclear warhead was estimated in opensource literature at about 100 kilotons. The ostensible advantages that might be expected from the fact that the Lance can be equipped with either a conventional ornuclear warhead were somewhat lessened by evidence that its accuracy was rather suspect and even more by its being deployed on so few launchers.
Since there are only some 990 missiles deployed on 88 launchers in West Germany and Italy, the logic was to arm as many Lances with nuclear warheads as possible. In actuality, the West German government never even bothered to buy conventional warheads for the Lances under their control. By 1989 there were about 700 nuclear-armed and 300 conventionally-armed Lances in West Germany and a few more in Italy.
Lance would have lost much of its utility by the middle 1990's, not only because of its increasing age and obsolescence but also because the WTO would have moved their logistics and communications centers just out of the range of the missile into Poland and Czechoslovakia as well as hardening these facilities in concrete bunkers.
From this perspective there was considerable reason to consider replacing the Lance with an entirely new system, but for political reasons there was pressure to conduct the debate not in terms of introducing something quite new but rather in terms of a simple "upgrade" of the Lance itself. Indeed, under the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which Congress appropriated funds for in 1986, there had been a replacement of the warheads and guidance systems of the Lance as they reached the end of their operational lives. NATO alliesof the United States participated in this program, and many missiles had been so upgraded.
As the Army entered the 1980s, it began a restructuring process called the Army of Excellence (AOE). To accomplish the AOE goals for the Field Artillery force, the Lance "compression" completed the restructuring of the corps artillery under the Echelons Above Division (EAD) transition. The Army restructured Lance units for an exclusively nuclear role, while the two Army TACMS-equipped MLRS battalions assumed the deep-strike conventional role. Lance units would compress by adding launchers, some command and control and some support from one battalion to the assets of another battalion. Each battalion then would consist of three firing batteries of four launchers, as opposed to the current 3x2 configuration. Though this will cut Lance units in the force in half, the number of launch platforms will be the same and fully capable of accomplishing the nuclear mission until their eventual replacement by a developmental system called "Follow-on-to-Lance" (FOTL).
Originally scheduled to be retired in the mid-1980s, the LANCE system was extended through 1990. DA subsequently decided in June 1985 to extend the nuclear-only LANCE shelf life to 1995. However, on 27 September 1991, President George Bush announced a unilateral cut in nuclear weapons, which was followed on 5 October by a similar announcement by President Mikhail Gorbachev of the U.S.S.R. Although the Soviet Union collapsed shortly thereafter, the United States later reaffirmed this nuclear arms reduction agreement by signing a treaty with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine on 23 May 1992. The final LANCE battalion stood down at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on 30 June 1992. After being demilitarized, excess LANCE missiles were set aside for use as targets.
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