Following a recent agreement struck with the United States Department of Defense, British Army will be embarking on a five-year programme to update M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). The upgrades will ensure that the Army’s Land Deep Fires capability remains strong for the next three decades and that the British Army has the technological capability to quickly meet the threats of today and tomorrow. Taking advantage of the long-standing MLRS collaboration with the US and key allies, work will start on upgrading the first tranche of launchers in March 2022 with the fleet going through production over a four-year period. The upgrades will keep the equipment in service until 2050.
The MLRS is a highly mobile automatic system that fires 12 surface-to-surface missiles in less than a minute. Upgrades will be made to 44 launchers, which are currently in-service, and will include a new armoured cab and upgraded automotive and launch mechanism components. The 44 updated launchers will also be able to fire the US’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) which has a range of 499km and is expected in-service from 2024. MLRS is owned by the Royal Artillery and is operated by 26 Regiment RA from Larkhill, Wiltshire and 101 Regiment RA (Reserves) of Gateshead, Tyne & Wear. The work being carried out at Red River Army Depot and Lockheed Martin’s facility in Camden, Arkansas.
The UK is also developing UK-specific systems for the new launchers, including Composite Rubber Tracks (CRT), and a vehicle camera and radar system. A new Fire Control System will be developed collaboratively with the US, UK, Italy, and Finland. The CRT will provide better fuel economy and allow the launcher to travel further, giving greater operational and tactical mobility to support deployed troops in a range of operating environments. A single launcher will be used to fire many payloads. To ensure soldiers are not outranged, the Army will develop a new extended range missile with MLRS partners, to be fired from the updated launchers, which should be in-service by 2025. The Guided MLRS Extended Range (GMLRS-ER) missile will extend the Army’s reach from 84 to 150km.
The M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (M270 MLRS) is an armored, self-propelled, multiple rocket launcher. Some 1,300 M270 systems have been manufactured in the United States and in Europe, along with more than 700,000 rockets. The production of the M270 ended in 2003, when a last batch was delivered to the Egyptian Army. The M270B1 is a British Army upgrade, similar to the A1, but it also includes an enhanced armor package, which gives the crew better protection against IED attacks. The MRLS firing the M31 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) munition, is the mainstay of the British Army’s deep and shaping fires capability. It also includes an enhanced armor package, which gives the crew better protection against IED attacks.