Artillery: September 11, 2004

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Israel has successfully tested a non-GPS guidance system that substantially improves the accuracy of the standard 227mm MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) rocket. In a test, six rockets were fired at targets 33 kilometers away, and all were "direct hits."  The Trajectory Correction System (TCS) is a $30,000 add-on kit that consists of a radio receiver and navigation computer with the rocket "steered" by thrust vectoring. A ground-based position-locating system tracks the rocket in flight and sends adjustment commands,  to the navigation computer, to correct its flight path. TCS is able to track and guide up to eight rockets at a time with an estimated working range above 40 kilometers, matching the extreme  range of the rocket. The supplemental guidance system has taken Israel 10 years and $60 million in U.S. foreign military development funding to create, but two TCS guided rockets will achieve the same results as a salvo of 18 unguided ones, according to the manufacturer. 

When Israel bought 64 MLRS launchers from the U.S. in the mid-90s, it insisted on being able to develop its own guidance system for the rockets. Having perfected the system, it intends to offer it to overseas to other MLRS users as well as for retrofitting on other artillery rockets. 

The system is a bit more cumbersome than the U.S. Army's version of the guided MLRS (GMLRS) rocket, requiring the setup of a guidance station before launch. The Army's GMLRS system uses a GPS guidance system along with a backup inertial guidance unit to land within meters of an intended target, so a MLRS launcher can simply plug in target coordinates, shoot a mission, and then drive off to another location. The GMLRS round also has a longer range of 60 kilometers. A MLRS rocket carries a payload of 404 bomblets designed to destroy personnel and vehicles. Doug Mohney

 


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