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The HIMARS artillery rocket launcher system tested for rapid deployment by U.S. Army 1605118.

| 2011
Defense News - United States

Monday, May 16, 2011, 09:13 PM

The HIMARS artillery rocket launcher system tested for rapid deployment by U.S. Army.
Members of the Precision Fires Rocket and Missile System Project Office test fired an upgraded version of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS. The test focused on new navigation and targeting equipment installed on the HIMARS system intended to enhance the system's ability to rapidly deploy from an aircraft and fire.

To conduct the test, two HIMARS vehicles were loaded onto a C-17 cargo plane, with a third loaded onto a C-130 cargo plane. The planes then flew to White Sands Missile Range, or WSMR, and landed at Space Harbor where the HIMARS vehicles were quickly unloaded and their missiles launched.

"What this capability allows is proofing out the concept of allowing a system like the HIMARS to fly on a C-130 or a C-17 and come in and execute a target set and load back up and fly back to home station or a forward operating base," said Lt. Col. Gregory Paul, product manager for Field Artillery Launchers, Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems Project Office.

The test was conducted in two parts, the first part being the pair of launchers deploying from the C-17. After firing, the pair of launchers were loaded back onto the C-17 and flown away to clear the area for the C-130 to land and repeat the process with the single launcher it had on board.

The HIMARS is a truck mounted version of the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. Able to carry all of the same rocket and missile payloads as the tracked vehicle based MLRS, the HIMARS benefits from additional mobility allowing it to keep up with lighter units than the MLRS

"One of the things the Army learned long ago was tracks go with tracks and wheels go with wheels. The HIMARS on a five ton truck derivative is more aligned with our light forces," Paul said.

The test leveraged the HIMARS' lightweight and high mobility and coupled it with the ubiquitous nature of the C-17 and C-130, two of the Air Force's most common and versatile transport aircraft.

"What it does is, it merges existing capabilities between the Army and the Air force," said Paul.

This test was the capstone event for the project, and represents years of work by both the service members and civilians working on improving the system.

"It's a culmination of many years of work of the product office, the end user community at Fort Sill Oklahoma, and many of our teammates," Paul said.

Since the upgraded navigation and targeting systems are so vital to mission of providing accurate artillery missile and rocket strikes, extensive work had to be done to ensure the systems were up to the challenge.

"We've gone through quite a bit of testing. The genesis of this project was almost five years ago. It's something that's been on the drawing board that we've worked with the precision fires project office for quite some time," said Matthew Berger director of MLRS launchers for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

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