The HIMARS (High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System) is a highly mobile multiple rocket launcher system designed to destroy areas where artillery systems, air defense systems, technical support units,
HIMARS multiple launch rocket system
The HIMARS (High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System) is a highly mobile multiple rocket launcher system designed to destroy areas where artillery systems, air defense systems, technical support units, trucks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and to provide support for areas where troops and support facilities are concentrated.
The creation of HIMARS is driven by the need to equip infantry, airborne and rapid deployment units with highly mobile launchers suitable for airlift to any theater of war.
In the mid-1980s, Loral Vought Systems began to explore the possibility of developing and integrating a six-barrel transport and launch container for 227 mm rounds to be mounted on crawler and wheeled chassis of smaller vehicles. This attempt - the HIMARS program for a highly mobile artillery reactive system - was aimed at creating a system with the possibility of air transportation by means of C-130 military transport aircraft. In December 1989, Operation Just Case in Panama clearly demonstrated the need for this capability. In June 1990, the U.S. Army began to develop requirements for a lightweight version of the MLRS system on truck landing gear. The prototype was first demonstrated in September 1994. In early 1996, the U.S. Army's Command of Controlled Arms signed a 22.3 million contract with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control to assemble prototypes of HIMARS MLRS combat vehicles. Under the 53-month contract, the company assembled four combat vehicle prototypes and handed three of them over to the client for two years of testing. The fourth vehicle was left for testing by the developer. In July 1998, U.S. Army specialists successfully carried out firing tests of the ATACMS missile system using a prototype combat vehicle HIMARS.
Production qualification tests (Series II) of the system started in November 2003 and included firing of the M26 unguided rocket, MGM-140B (Block IA) and MGM-164A (Block II) missiles of the ATACMS operational-tactical complex and MLRS guided missiles. However, no details have been reported or communicated, in particular the possibility of using the same chassis for the assembly of TPKs for the firing of projectiles of different calibres, as it is believed that only TPKs with projectiles of the same calibre can be mounted on the platform of one chassis type. In January 2004, the production testing of the HIMARS combat vehicle prototype for compliance with the tactical specification was completed. These tests confirmed the high tactical and technical performance of the system. During one of the prototype tests, the HIMARS combat vehicle was delivered to Fort Sill Eastern Firing Range (Oklahoma) by C-130 transport aircraft. The vehicle was unloaded in less than five minutes. It was then placed in a firing position and, having received a combat mission through a digital data exchange channel, salvored six training rockets. Participating in the joint exercise were U.S. Army MLRS BMR calculation and Marine Corps command and control calculations.
On June 16, 2005, the HIMARS system began entering the troops. The first certified unit to have HIMARS was the 3rd Division, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Airborne Corps.
In 2000, Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control division developed a prototype of the R44 missile for high-precision long-range target destruction using MLRS and HIMARS MLRS combat vehicles. To launch this missile, a special container for 10 missiles was developed.
The prototype had the ability to work in the mode of auxiliary inertial guidance with the help of GPS system (for hitting stationary targets) and with a miniature homing head from the program for the JCM (Joint Common Missile).
The design of the prototype included a homing head with three modes of operation: a Doppler radar operating in the millimeter wavelength range for all-weather applications and hitting moving targets, a cooled infrared mode for target detection and classification, and a semi-active laser mode for hitting targets using target designation.
The company chose a 177 mm starter accelerator to provide speed, with low cost and the possibility of further upgrading. The design of the prototype rocket could include an enlarged Hellfire II rocket head or a cumulative head with a forming device. A certain development potential was created in the direction of increasing the length and weight of the missile.
According to the electronic database of Jane's Defence Weekly, dated 16 March 2007, it is indicated that, following wind tunnel tests and static burning of rocket engines, the R44 ballistic experimental missile successfully completed a flight test at the White Sands Missile Range (New Mexico) on 15 February.
May 4, 2007 Jane's Missiles and Rokets magazine reported on the second successful flight test of the prototype.
According to Jane's 2012 electronic database available at the Russian National Library (St. Petersburg), the HIMARS Missiles and Rosses combat vehicle was used during a series of tests of the P44 guided missile prototype. According to data from the end of 2012, work on the project was stopped.
At the end of 2006, Lockheed Martin received a contract worth $15.8 million from the U.S. Army to develop a cab for a combat vehicle with an enhanced level of number plate protection. According to the terms of the contract, BAE Systems specialists were to perform work on its improvement until September 30, 2010. The combat vehicle cabs will receive additional armor that provides ballistic protection against bullets, projectile fragments and mines (see photo). Available information indicates that this option is in the hands of the US and South Korean military (see photo).
On March 28, 2008, a press release from Lockheed Martin announced the first launch of four guided missiles using the new universal fire control system and the ability to fire guided missiles. The contract requires six HIMARS combat vehicles to be assembled at the Dallas (Texas) and Candem (Arkansas) plants of the U.S. Army for extensive testing before the contract is awarded for initial small-scale production.
In mid-2008, a new range of 85 km was achieved by firing a GMLRS guided missile using a HIMARS MLRS combat vehicle. On November 5, 2009, Lockheed Martin press release reported that the launch of the GMLRS guided missile using the HIMARS combat vehicle resulted in the maximum flight range of 92 km. It should be noted that there is no information about the tactics of using guided missiles. It is not clear whether the task of their multiple launch with the identification of each projectile of its target has been accomplished or whether the use of such projectiles implies a departure from multiple launch.
In March 2009, tests were conducted at the White Sands Range (see photo), during which 2 SLAMRAAM anti-aircraft guided missiles (ALCMs) were launched from the HIMARS MLRS. The tests, during which all targets were achieved, included operational testing of the modified missiles and assembly of rail tracks for SLAMRAAM in a free container converted from the ATACMS missile launch system. During the launch of the anti-aircraft missile, the fire control system HIMARS with advanced software was used. After completion of works on modernization of fire control system and creation of transport and launching containers for SLAMRAAM SAM system, they will enter into service. According to the plans of the U.S. Army Command, in the future, HIMARS combat vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft guided missiles will be able to be used within a distributed network-centric air defense system.
The system was tested in combat conditions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The system is currently deployed in Afghanistan. One of the latest applications took place on February 14, 2010. Twelve civilians were killed by a multiple rocket launcher during a NATO counterterrorism operation in the Afghan city of Marjah. Two shells fired from a HIMARS MLRS war machine diverted significantly from the target and hit a civilian building.
On 31 January 2011, the Lockheed Martin website reported that the company had received an additional contract worth $139.6 million for 44 HIMARS multiple rocket launchers for the United States Army. This order is to increase the fleet of HIMARS MLRS vehicles to 375. Deliveries will take place until the end of January 2013.
HIMARS MLRS is in service since 2005. As of February 2015, 480 HIMARS systems were assembled. Deliveries were made to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and international allies - UAE, Jordan, Singapore.
The Russian analogue of the HIMARS system is a prototype of a lightweight Smerch RCD (see photo).