Artillery: August 20, 2003


Many artillery troops in Iraq were perplexed that the 155mm howitzer had a shell that carried two SADARM (Search and Destroy Armor) bomblets, but the MLRS, with a longer range and a larger 227mm rocket, did not have it. The SADARM worked well in Iraq, much better than the older, and smaller, anti-armor bomblets in shells and rockets. Actually, there was a MLRS rocket designed to carry six SADARM bomblets. The SADARM rocket was designed, tested, approved and ready for production. But it was cancelled in 1994, another one of those post Cold War budget cuts. SADARM is not likely to end up in a MLRS rocket, as the newer BAT bomblet does what SADARM does (search for vehicles below and glide to attack them), but does it better. The larger ATACMS rocket (which takes the place of a six pack of 227mm MLRS rockets on the MLRS launcher), can carry 13 of the larger BATs. But in Iraq, the ATACMs (with a range of 140 kilometers) carrying 900 smaller bomblets was preferred, as this would kill everyone in one square kilometer, and wreck any unarmored vehicles and equipment in that area as well. The BAT bomblets didn't get used in Iraq, although a new, improved version was introduced this year, used in a longer range (300 kilometers) ATACKs. This missile carries six improved BAT bomblets. This is an expensive way to kill tanks, as each missile costs over $100,000 (final price subject to quantity ordered.) Making "smarter" shells and rockets is all the rage now, because of the great success of these weapons in combat. 


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