M142 HIMARS
A M142 HIMARS launching a GMLRS rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in 2005
Type
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service2010–present
Used bySee Operators
Wars
Production history
ManufacturerLockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control
Unit costDomestic cost:
$3.5 million per one launcher+carrier (FY 2014);[2]
$4.3 million (in 2022)[3] per one launcher+carrier
$168,000 per one M31 GMLRS (FY 2023)[4]
Export cost:
$19–20 million per one launcher+carrier (FY 2022);
$434,000 per one M31ER GMLRS (FY 2022)[5]
No. built>540[6]
Specifications
Mass16,250 kg (35,800 lb)[7]
Length7 m (23 ft 0 in)
Width2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)
Height3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
Crew3

Traverse360°
Effective firing rangedepends on armament
  • starting from 9 km (5.6 mi) armed with MLRS
  • up to 499 km (310 mi) (planned) armed with PrSM

Armorlight/medium
Main
armament
or 2 x PrSM
EngineCaterpillar 3116 ATAAC 6.6-liter diesel
290 hp[8]
Power/weight17.8 hp/t (13.27 kW/t)
Operational
range
480 km (300 mi)
Maximum speed 85 km/h (53 mph)
Accuracyvery high e.g. at 186 miles range (300 km) within 3 feet (1 meter)[9]

The M142 HIMARS (/ˈhmɑːrz/) – M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – is a light multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the United States Army and mounted on a standard U.S. Army Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) M1140 truck frame.

The HIMARS carries one pod with either six Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets or one Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile. It is based on the U.S. Army's FMTV five-ton truck, and is capable of launching all rockets specified in the Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions (MFOM). HIMARS ammunition pods are interchangeable with the M270 MLRS; however, it is limited to a single pod as opposed to the standard two for the M270 and its variants.

The launcher can be transported by C-17 Globemaster, C-5 Galaxy, and Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft.[10] The FMTV truck that transports the HIMARS was initially produced by Armor Holdings Aerospace and Defense Group Tactical Vehicle Systems Division, the original equipment manufacturer of the FMTV. It was produced by the Oshkosh Corporation from 2010 to 2017.[11]

Development

The requirement for HIMARS first came about in 1982, when the 9th Infantry Division (Motorized) saw the need to acquire a light multiple rocket launcher as a counterfire asset. The requirement failed to gather support from the Field Artillery School and languished for a number of years.[12] The institutional bias at the time was oriented towards heavy forces.[13] With the waning of the Cold War and the growing interest in low-intensity operations, both the Field Artillery School and Missile Command realized that the M270 MLRS was too heavy for rapid deployment and pushed for the funding of HIMARS.[13]

The Gulf War gave new impetus towards fielding a lightweight MLRS, when the M270 proved too costly in airlift assets to deploy in theater and the launchers did not arrive with the initial wave of U.S. troops.[13] The HIMARS concept was tested on April 1991 at White Sands Missile Range, using a modified Honest John launcher.[14]

Proof-of-concept prototype of HIMARS at White Sands Missile Range, April 1991

HIMARS was then developed as a private venture by Loral Vought Systems, later Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, to meet this requirement. The system first appeared publicly in 1993. In 1996, the U.S. Army Missile Command awarded Lockheed Martin a $23.2 million contract to build four prototypes. The vehicles were delivered to the XVIII Airborne Corps in April 1998 for a two-year evaluation with 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment.[15]

In July 1998, the Army conducted a test firing of the ATACMS. In December 1999, the Aviation and Missile Command awarded Lockheed Martin a $65 million contract for engineering and manufacturing development. Under this contract, Lockheed Martin delivered six HIMARS in late 2001 for Army evaluation. In April 2003, the Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $96 million contract to begin low rate initial production. Around this time, the Marine Corps placed an order for two units for evaluation purposes.[16]

The launcher system and chassis are produced by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control in Camden, Arkansas as of 2019.[17]

Design

The HIMARS is similar in design to the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), with the main exception being that it is a wheeled vehicle as opposed to a tracked vehicle. The HIMARS can carry the same type of pods as the M270, but carries one pod while the M270 carries two pods. The HIMARS windows are made of sheets of sapphire laminated with glass and polycarbonate.[18]

The HIMARS was also tested as a unified launch system for both artillery rockets and the SLAMRAAM surface-launched variant of the AMRAAM anti-aircraft missile.[19]

In October 2017, a Marine Corps HIMARS fired a rocket while at sea against a land target for the first time from the deck of the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage, demonstrating the system's ability to operate while on ships to deliver precision fire from a standoff range against shore defenses.[20] The vehicle's targeting software was reworked so it can better fire while on a launch platform in motion.[21]

By early 2022, Lockheed Martin was producing HIMARS at a rate of 48 launchers annually, but following the start of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine that rate was increased to 60. In October 2022 the company announced it would boost production to 96 systems annually in response to increased demand caused by the war. Limitations in building new industrial capacity means it will be several months before production can be ramped up from five to eight vehicles monthly.[22][23]

Operational history

Afghanistan and the Middle East

A HIMARS launcher with armored cab
A HIMARS launcher being loaded into a C-130 Hercules aircraft in 2011
Reloading a HIMARS with a pod of six rockets

In February 2010, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan indicated in a press release that two rockets fired from a HIMARS were believed to have fallen 300 metres short of their intended target, killing 12 civilians during Operation Moshtarak. ISAF suspended the use of the HIMARS until a full review of the incident was completed.[24] A British officer later said that the rockets were on target, that the target was in use by the Taliban, and that use of the system had been reinstated.[25] Reports indicated that the civilian deaths were due to the Taliban's use of human shields; the presence of civilians at that location had not been known to the ISAF forces.[26] A report in the New York Times in October 2010 credited the HIMARS with aiding the NATO offensive in Kandahar by targeting Taliban commanders' hideouts, forcing many to flee to Pakistan, at least temporarily.[27]

In November 2015, the U.S. Army revealed that it had deployed the HIMARS to Iraq, firing at least 400 rockets at Islamic State (ISIL) targets since the beginning of that summer.[28] HIMARS detachments were sent to Al Asad Airbase and Al-Taqaddum Air Base in Al Anbar Governorate. In March 2016, a U.S. Army HIMARS fired rockets into Syria for the first time in support of Syrian rebels fighting ISIL, from launchers based in neighboring Jordan.[29]

In January 2016, Lockheed announced that the HIMARS had reached 1 million operational hours with U.S. forces, achieving a 99 percent operational readiness rate.[30]

In April 2016, it was announced that the U.S. would be deploying the HIMARS in Turkey near the border with Syria as part of the battle with ISIL.[31] In early September, international media and the U.S. State Department reported a newly deployed HIMARS had engaged ISIL targets in Syria near the Turkish border.[32][33][34]

In October 2016, HIMARS were stationed at Qayyarah Airfield West, some 65 kilometres (40 mi) south of Mosul, taking part in the Battle of Mosul.[35]

In June 2017, a HIMARS was deployed at Al-Tanf, Syria, to support U.S.-backed rebels in the area.[36][37]

On 24 May 2018, a HIMARS strike killed 50 Taliban fighters and leaders in Musa Qala, Afghanistan.[38] Three rockets struck the building within a 14-second timespan.[39]

In September 2018, US support forces coordinated with Syrian Democratic Forces fighting to defeat ISIS in east Syria in the Deir ez-Zor campaign, sometimes striking ISIS positions with GMLRS rockets 30 times per day.[40][41][42][43][44] The HIMARS used in this support operation were located in the Omar oilfields, some 25 km (16 mi) north of the ISIS-controlled targets.[45]

Ukraine

A Ukrainian HIMARS in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, July 2022

On 1 June 2022, the US announced that it would be supplying four HIMARS to Ukraine with M31 GMLRS unitary rockets.[46][47][48] On 23 June, the first HIMARS arrived in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.[49] On 25 June 2022, Ukraine started deploying the system against Russian forces during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, "Artillerymen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine hit ... military targets of the enemy on our, Ukrainian, territory".[50] The Ukrainian military stated that this first strike, on a Russian base in Izyum, killed over 40 soldiers. The day before, a second batch of four was announced to be delivered in mid-July.[51]

On 1 July, a US defense official told reporters that Ukraine had been using the system to destroy Russian command posts: "selecting targets and then accurately hitting them ... degrading Russian capability".[52] On 18 July, Zaluzhnyi said: "An important factor contributing to our retention of defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of M142 HIMARS, which deliver surgical strikes on enemy control posts, ammunition and fuel storage depots."[53]

Another four HIMARS were announced for delivery on 8 July, the delivery spacing driven by the weeks-long process to train Ukrainian troops on how to use the platform. To avoid escalating the conflict, US restricted Ukraine from firing HIMARS rockets into Russian territory.[54] For the same reason, the US had not provided Ukraine with the longer-range ATACMS missile, which could easily engage targets inside of Russia.[55][56]

A fourth batch of four was announced on 20 July, bringing the total number of HIMARS committed to Ukraine to 16. Ukrainian Defense Minister Reznikov stated that the country needed "at least 100" of the system and that by that point, eight systems had destroyed 30 command stations and ammunition storage facilities, decreasing the intensity of Russian shelling and slowing their advance.[57] In that announcement, it was revealed that the number delivered had reached 12 launchers.[58][59][60] That number had increased to 16 by 1 August.[61]

On 30 August 2022, The Washington Post reported on Ukrainian claims to have successfully used decoy HIMARS units made out of wood to draw at least 10 Russian 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles. One US diplomat stated that Russian sources had claimed more HIMARS destroyed than the US had sent. A Pentagon official had earlier in the month asserted that no HIMARS had been destroyed at that time.[62] On 8 September, US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters: "We are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine in the use of these systems. For example, the Ukrainians have struck over 400 targets with the HIMARS and they've had devastating effect".[63]

A further 18 HIMARS were announced on 28 September, as part of an aid package aimed at meeting Ukraine's mid- and long-term needs, so deliveries are to begin in six months at the earliest.[64][65] Ukraine had previously been provided with only M31 Unitary Warhead missiles, which are "not ideal against targets spread over large areas, as the deadly chunks are not designed to fly far." As of early October they have been granted the M30A1 which uses the Alternative Warhead that can cover up to "half a square mile of land in a single salvo" with 180,000 tungsten steel BB sized balls.[66] The US announced on 4 October that four more HIMARS launchers would be provided from US military stockpiles, to increase the total to 20 HIMARS in Ukrainian service.[67][68][69][70]

HIMARS attacks by Ukraine have been credited with "destroy[ing] Russian command nodes, tens of thousands of howitzer artillery rounds and a staggering 20 million small-arms rounds." As of 11 November 2022, a senior U.S. official stated no HIMARS systems have been destroyed after five months in operational use.[71][72] As of February 2023, CNN reported that Ukraine had expended approximately 9,500 HIMARS rockets.[73] In response to the effects of HIMARS, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared the HIMARS system as a high priority target for Russian troops. Ukrainian officials identified Russia's kamikaze drones as the biggest threat to the HIMARS system.[55]

On 5 May 2023, it was reported that Russia was able to jam the HIMARS's GPS guidance system which decreased the HIMARS rockets' accuracy.[74] As of January 2024, no HIMARS have been destroyed by Russian forces.[75]

Armament

The HIMARS can fire the following rockets and missiles:

MLRS

MLRS is a series of 227 mm rockets.

See section § MLRS in main article M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System for more details on the M26

The M28 rockets are a variant of the unguided M26 rockets of the M270 system.[77] Each rocket pod contains 6 identical rockets.

GMLRS

Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) 227 mm rockets have an extended range and add GPS-aided guidance to their Inertial Navigation System. GMLRS rockets were introduced in 2005 and the M30 and M31 rockets are, except for their warheads, identical.[76] As of 1 December 2021 50,000 GMLRS rockets have been produced,[82] with yearly production now exceeding 9,000 rockets. Each rocket pod contains 6 identical rockets. Both Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army report that the GMLRS has a maximum range of 70+ km (43+ mi).[83][84] According to a U.S. Department of Defense document the maximum demonstrated performance of a GMLRS is 84 km (52 mi),[85] a figure also reported elsewhere.[77][76] Another source reports a maximum range of about 90 km (56 mi).[86] In 2009 Lockheed Martin announced that a GMLRS had been successfully test fired 92 km (57 mi).[78]

GLSDB

Main article: Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb

The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) is an M26-rocket based weapon made by Boeing and the Saab Group, who modified Boeing's GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the addition of an obsolete M26 rocket motor. It has a range of up to 150 km (93 mi).[81]

ATACMS

Main article: ATACMS

The Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is a series of 610 mm surface-to-surface missile (SSM) with a range of up to 300 km (190 mi).[80] Each rocket pod contains one ATACMS missile. As of 2022, only the M48, M57, and M57E1 remain in the US military's arsenal.

PrSM

Main article: Precision Strike Missile

The Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) is a new series of GPS-guided missiles, which will begin to replace ATACMS missiles in 2024. PrSM carries a newly designed area-effects warhead and has a range of 60–499 km (37–310 mi). PrSM missiles can be launched from the M270A2 and the HIMARS, with rockets pods containing 2 missiles. As of 2022 the PrSM is in low-rate initial production with 110 missiles being delivered to the US military over the year. PrSM will enter operational service in 2023.[101][76][102]

Related developments

Lockheed Martin UK and INSYS had jointly developed a demonstrator rocket artillery system similar to HIMARS for the British Army's "Lightweight Mobile Artillery Weapon System/Rocket" (LIMAWS(R)) program. The system consisted of a single MLRS pod, mounted on a Supacat SPV600 chassis.[103] The LIMAWS(R) program was canceled in September 2007.[104]

Lockheed Martin and Thales Australia are discussing with the Australian government, manufacturing HIMARS rockets in Australia, due in part to concerns of resupply during conflict. Australia has the ability to manufacture the rockets but it depends on the technology, specifically the guidance components, being authorized by the US government.[105] In November 2022, the publication The Strategist, published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, warned that "acquiring the missile-delivery system without a dedicated surveillance and target acquisition capability means that Australia's long-range fires will have no eyes."[106]

Autonomous Multi-domain Launcher

The Autonomous Multi-domain Launcher (AML) is an unmanned variant of the HIMARS. The AML is equipped with remote controlled launcher and fire-control system that ensures compatibility with current munitions used onboard both M270 MLRS and HIMARS.[107] The concept video shows the AML can carry two pods compared to one on HIMARS and is expected to be compatible with munitions from other services or in development.[108][109]

Operators

A map of HIMARS operators in blue
A Ukrainian HIMARS in the Zaporizhya region, June 2022.

Current operators

This subsection needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this subsection. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "M142 HIMARS" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
 United States
Romanian HIMARS loaded into a Royal Air Force A400M Atlas
 Romania
 Singapore
 Ukraine
 United Arab Emirates
 Jordan
  • 29th HIMARS Battalion, Jordan Royal Artillery Command
 Poland

Future operators

 Australia
  • Australian Army: The Pentagon reported that the Australian Army had requested to purchase 20 HIMARS at a cost of "between one and two billion [Australian] dollars", with the sale being approved by the U.S. State Department in May 2022.[124][125][126]
 Estonia
  • Estonian Land Forces: In July 2022, United States approved the sale of six systems to Estonia as part of package estimated at $500 million.[127] A contract was signed in December 2022.[128]
 Italy
  • Italian Army: In December 2023, the US State Department approved the possible sale of 21 HIMARS launchers and related equipment for an estimated cost of $400 million.[129]
 Latvia
  • Latvian Land Forces: In October 2022, Latvian Ministry of Defense announced that Latvia plans to acquire six systems for an estimated cost of $220 million.[130][131] The contract was signed in December 2023 with delivery planned to begin in 2027.[132]
 Lithuania
  • Lithuanian Land Forces: In November 2022, the US State Department approved the sale of 8 systems and over 800 missiles, including the ATACMS. The $495 million contract was signed in December 2022.[133][134]
 Morocco
  • Royal Moroccan Army: In April 2023, the US State Department approved the possible sale of 18 HIMARS launchers and related equipment for an estimated cost of $524.2 million.[135]
 Taiwan

Potential operators

 Philippines

Failed bids

 Hungary
  • Hungarian Ground Forces: Hungary requested the sale of HIMARS from the US in a letter with a deadline of March 2022. As there was no response from the US, Hungary "considered the matter closed". In June 2023, U.S. Senator Jim Risch, seated on the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, revealed however that continued attempts had been made, but he had blocked the sale of up to 24 HIMARS systems to Hungary on grounds that Hungary was refusing to approve Swedens bid to join NATO. The Hungarian Defence Ministry in response stated that it did not intend to procure HIMARS systems.[143][144][145]
 Netherlands
  • Royal Netherlands Army: In February 2023, the US State Department approved the potential sale of 20 systems to Netherlands at a cost of $650 million.[146][147][148][149] In March 2023, the Netherlands purchased 20 Elbit Systems PULS launchers instead of HIMARS. The value of the contract is $133 million. PULS advantage according to the Ministry of Defence is that it can carry more missiles, better price, means more missiles can be purchased and last but not least Elbit delivers them faster, than Lockheed Martin, which production capacity is booked many years ahead.[150][151]

See also

References

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