Artillery: November 9, 2003

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The MLRS rocket launchers got their first battlefield use in 1991, and did well. But there were some problems, and these were addressed in the upgraded version of the M270 launcher (the M270A1) that was used in Iraq. Two things in particular were noticed with the new model. The M270A1 required noticeably less maintenance from the crew and was generally more reliable under severe conditions. Some MLRS traveled over a thousand kilometers in three weeks, through sandstorms and extreme heat, and suffered no breakdowns. The other new feature was the quicker stow speed. In 1991, it took 93 seconds for the launchers to move from their elevated firing positions to their flat travel positions, while the M270A1 could do this in 16 seconds. That was important, because MLRS launchers kick up a lot of dust and smoke when they fire, telling any enemy units in the area here we are. So its standard procedure for units to fire, stow their launchers and get out of the area. Being able to do that a lot faster was safer, and good for morale. Other improvements included built in GPS, much better fire control computer, a new (more reliable) engine and greater range on one load of fuel.

 


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