Guided Unitary MLRS for Urban Warfare
The Army’s new Guided Unitary MLRS supposedly has point target capability.
U.S. company Lockheed Martin says its Multiple Launch Rocket System has point target capability in urban environments. “Guided Unitary MLRS — Multiple Launch Rocket System — is the newest variant which leverages the Guided MLRS — GMLRS — experience and investment to integrate a unitary warhead with a multi-mode fuze to expand the MLRS target set to include point targets within urban and complex environments. In January 2005, the U.S. Army issued an Urgent Need Statement for acceleration of GMLRS Unitary deliveries in support of counter fire operations,” Lockheed Martin said.
Lockheed Martin said it “delivered the first 72 GMLRS Unitary rockets in June 2005 satisfying the requirements of the Urgent Need Statement. The first 900-plus rockets were delivered to the United States in 2005 and 2006.”
“In theater, the GMLRS Unitary rocket has earned the nickname ‘the 70-kilometer Sniper Rifle,’ and continues to live up to that reputation mission after mission,” said Lt. Col. Mark Pincoski, U.S. Army product manager, Precision Guided Missiles and Rockets. “Guided Unitary has reshaped the way indirect fires are applied throughout the battlefield thanks to its 24-hour, all-weather availability and pinpoint accuracy.”
My guess is that Lockheed “said” these things via a press release, which UPI has dutifully repacked. But, wowsers.
Back in the day, many, many jobs ago, I was a MLRS firing platoon leader. We still used the first generation, M270, system which carried twelve rockets, each contining 644 dual-purpose (anti-armor and anti-personnel) submunitions. It was quite decidedly an area weapon, designed to decimate everything within an 800 meter radius. Indeed, our battalion nickname was the Gridsmashers, after our ability to wipe out a standard 1×1 kilometer military map grid with one standard load.
The system evolved over the years, quickly shifting to the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS, pronounced “Attack ’ems”), which fired two much more powerful, long range rockets rather than the original twelve. Still, though, it was designed as a mass weapon to neutralize a conventional enemy.
That they’re now trying to make this a precision weapon to hit small targets is interesting, indeed. Presumably, it reflects Lockheed’s desire to continue to sell these systems in a COIN world and necessity being the mother of all invention. If it works, though, it’ll make the King of Battle more relevant for future missions.
See Global Security for more background on the system.