M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)

US State Department Approves M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to Lithuania

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Lithuania of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Launchers and related equipment for an estimated cost of $495 million. The Government of Lithuania has requested to buy 8 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Launchers; 36 M30A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) Alternative Warhead (AW) Missile Pods with Insensitive Munitions Propulsion System (IMPS); 36 M31A2 GMLRS Unitary High Explosive (HE) Missile Pods; 36 XM403 Extended Range GMLRS (ER GMLRS) Alternative Warhead (AW) Missile Pods with IMPS; 36 XM404 Extended Range GMLRS (ER GMLRS) Unitary Pods with IMPS; and 18 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) Missile Pods. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin, Grand Prairie, TX.

The M142 HIMARS is a light multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the United States Army and mounted on a standard United States Army Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) truck frame. The HIMARS carries one pod with either six GMLRS rockets or one ATACMS missile. It is based on the United States Army’s FMTV five-ton truck, and is capable of launching all rockets specified in the Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions (MFOM). HIMARS ammunition pods are interchangeable with the M270 MLRS; however, it is limited to a single pod as opposed to the standard two for the M270 and its variants. The FMTV truck that transports the HIMARS was initially produced by BAE Systems, the original equipment manufacturer of the FMTV. The launcher can be transported by Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft.

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M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)

The HIMARS is similar in design to the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), with the main exception being that it is a wheeled vehicle as opposed to tracked vehicle. The HIMARS carries one ordnance pod, which is identical to the pods used by the M270. The windows are made of sheets of sapphire laminated with glass and polycarbonate. The HIMARS was also tested as a unified launch system for both artillery rockets and the SLAMRAAM surface-launched variant of the AMRAAM anti-aircraft missile. By early 2022, Lockheed Martin was producing HIMARS at a rate of 48 launchers annually, but following the start of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine that rate was increased to 60. In October 2022 the company announced it would boost production to 96 systems annually in response to increased demand caused by the war.

Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) 227mm rockets have an extended range and add GPS-aided guidance to their Inertial Navigation System. Each rocket pod contains 6 identical rockets. Most of GMLRS series rockets have effective range of up to 92 km. ER GMLRS rockets with extended range of up to 150 km (93 mi). Rockets use a slightly increased rocket motor size, a newly designed hull, and tail-driven guidance while still containing six per pod. It will come in unitary and AW variants. The first successful test flight of an ER GMLRS occurred in March 2021. Lockheed Martin anticipates adding the ER to its production line in the fiscal year 2023 contract award, and is planning to produce the new rockets at its Camden facility. Full operational capability is planned for 2025. In 2022 Finland became the first foreign customer to order ER GMLRS.

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