Finland’s Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen has approved a proposal to procure ammunition for a heavy rocket launcher system from the United States. The Ministerial Finance Committee supported the procurement in its session on 10 February 2022. The procurement from the United States will provide the Defence Forces with Extended Range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Alternative Warheads (ER GMLRS AW) for area targets and Extended Range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (ER GMLRS UNITARY) ammunition for point target effect. The ammunition manufacturer in the United States is Lockheed Martin.
The procurement is based on the guidelines of the Government’s Defence Policy Report and the long-term development plans of the Defence Forces. The assignment to procure munitions was given in 2018. The procurement will ensure that the artillery’s capabilities are maintained and developed to correspond to the general level of development. The new munitions will significantly improve the performance of heavy rocket launchers and extend their range. The effectiveness of the ER GMLRS AW and UNITARY munitions corresponds to the GMLRS AW and UNITARY procured by the Defence Forces in 2016. The procurement is part of a plan to ensure the usability and performance of heavy rocket launchers into the 2050s.
The new guided rockets will enable the more efficient use of heavy rocket launchers purchased in 2006 and they will diversify the range of munition used by heavy rocket launchers. The use of guided rockets will be possible due to an upgrade done in 2012-2015 on the fire control system. The area target AW rockets spread preformed tungsten fragments when they explode above the target while the effect of the point target UNITARY rockets is based on explosions and blast effects. The range of both munitions is some 150 kilometers. The procurement’s overall value is about EUR 70 million and the funding is included in the defense spending. Procurement deliveries are estimated to start in 2025.
Current Guided MLRS variants include:
Guided MLRS Unitary: The combat-proven Guided MLRS Unitary round integrates a 200-pound unitary warhead, providing a precision strike for point targets. The Unitary variant has a range exceeding 70 kilometers.
Guided MLRS Alternative Warhead (AW): The Guided MLRS AW round was the first munition developed to service area targets without the effects of unexploded ordnance. The AW variant has a range exceeding 70 kilometers and delivers a 200-pound class fragmenting warhead.
Extended-Range (ER) Guided MLRS: A new developmental variation of the Guided MLRS family, ER GMLRS offers an extended range out to 150 kilometers in all weather conditions. ER GMLRS shares significant commonality with legacy Guided MLRS and is deployable by HIMARS and the MLRS M270 family of launchers.