Artillery: No More Unguided MLRS Rockets

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January 16, 2006: The U.S. is no longer buying unguided rockets for its 227mm MLRS multiple rocket system. All future purchases will be guided rockets. The primary guided rocket is the M30, carrying a 200 pound high explosive warhead, and using GPS for navigation. That means that at maximum range (over 60 kilometers), each rocket will still land within 10-20 feet of the aiming point. This gives MLRS the same accuracy as JDAM bombs. With the 60 kilometer range, one MLRS vehicle (carrying twelve rockets) or a HIMARS truck (carrying six rockets) can provide smart bomb accuracy for any troops within range. The smaller (200 pound) warhead is often preferred, particularly for urban fighting (where adjacent buildings may contain civilians.)

The bomblet version of the M30 warhead (carrying 404 bomblets), will no longer be used, mainly because the dud rate on the bomblets could not be pushed below one percent. That meant that each bomblet rocket would leave at least four live bomblets (the others having self destructed after a given period of time) left lying around, that tend to kill and maim civilians and friendly troops. In any event, the 200 pound high explosive warhead did the kind of damage the troops were most often looking for. The new rockets have a shelf life of 15 years. Some unguided training rockets will still be bought, but these have no warhead and a much shorter range. They are used just so the troops can practice a live launch of rockets.

 


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