Estonia is developing its defense capacities in response to Russia’s actions in the region, with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). ERR reported that Estonia’s 2031 national defense development plan prescribes the creation of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) unit to considerably boost Estonia’s indirect fire capacity, improving the defensive capabilities of units and anti-tank capacity. The procurement of M270A1 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) hopefully is declared in 2022. The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) can take delivery of these weapons in 2024, with Latvia and Lithuania prepared to procure these things a year later. Poland is also planning to procure 12 M270 MLRS systems from the U.S. at an item price of €20 million.
The U.S. Army will help Estonian Defense Forces integrate, train, and maintain the multiple launch rocket systems capability through long-term SPP initiatives. U.S. Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, landed in Estonia on Aug. 28 for the Brigade’s first live-fire exercise outside of Grafenwoehr, Germany, since they reactivated in 2018. The exercise, called Rail Gunner Rush, is designed to give U.S. Soldiers an opportunity to conduct live-fire exercises with their MRLS alongside soldiers with the Estonian Defense Force’s 1st Infantry Brigade in Tapa, Estonia. Performing this exercise is not only an opportunity for 1-6 FAR to integrate their capabilities and with the EDF but also with NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence units.
The M270A1 is an upgraded version of the American-made M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) designed and manufactured by the U.S. Company Lockheed Martin. Since the first M270s were delivered to the U.S. Army in 1983, the MLRS has been adopted by several NATO countries. 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 M270 is based on an rebuild M993 Carrier tracked chassis (derivative of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle). The layout of the M270A1 is similar to the M270 with the Launcher Loader Module mounted at the rear of the vehicle and a fully enclosed cab at the front of the tracked chassis.
The M270A1 system can fire MLRS Family Of Munition (MFOM) rockets and artillery missiles, which are manufactured and used by a number of platforms and countries. All twelve rockets or two ATACMS missiles can be fired in under a minute. The MLRS is sometimes referred to as the “Grid Square Removal System” (metric maps are usually divided up into 1 km grids). A typical MLRS cluster salvo consisted of three M270 vehicles each firing all 12 rockets. With each rocket containing 644 M77 grenades, the entire salvo would drop 23,184 grenades in the target area. The system can fire rockets or MGM-140 ATACMS missiles, which are contained in interchangeable pods. Each pod contains six standard rockets or one guided ATACMS missile; the two types cannot be mixed.