MGM-52 Lance
MGM-52 Lance missile erected for launch from the tracked M752 Self-Propelled Launcher.
TypeTactical ballistic missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1972–1992
Used byU.S. Army, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and West Germany
Production history
Unit cost~US$800K (1996 dollars)[1]
~US$1.4 million (2022)[2]
No. built2,133[3]
Mass2,850–3,367 lb (1,293–1,527 kg) depending on warhead[3]
Length20 ft (6.1 m)
Diameter22 in (560 mm)
Warhead1 W70 nuclear or M251 high explosive submunitions[3]
Blast yield1–100 kilotons of TNT (4.2–418.4 TJ)

EngineLiquid-propellant rocket
45–75 mi (72–121 km), depending on warhead[3]
Maximum speed >Mach 3
inertial guidance

The MGM-52 Lance was a mobile field artillery tactical surface-to-surface missile (tactical ballistic missile) system used to provide both nuclear and conventional fire support to the United States Army. The missile's warhead was developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It was replaced by MGM-140 ATACMS, which was initially intended to likewise have a nuclear capability during the Cold War.[4]


The first Lance missiles were deployed in 1972, replacing (together with the US-Navy's nuclear-tipped RIM-2D and RIM-8E/B/D) the earlier Honest John rocket and Sergeant SRBM ballistic missile, greatly reducing the weight and bulk of the system, while improving both accuracy and mobility.[3]

A Lance battery (two fire units) consisted of two M752 launchers (one missile each) and two M688 auxiliary vehicles (two missiles each), for a total six missiles; the firing rate per unit was approximately three missiles per hour. The launch vehicles were also able to carry and launch the MGR-1 Honest John with a special kit for operational war-zone mission-dependent flexibility (proposed additional kit).[3]

The missile's engine had an unusual arrangement, with a small sustainer engine mounted within a toroidal boost engine.[5]


M668 tracked transporter/loader vehicle (shares the same chassis as the M752) transferring missiles from a utility truck.

The payload consisted either of a W70 nuclear warhead with a yield of 1–100 kt (4.2–418.4 TJ) or a variety of conventional munitions. The W70-3 nuclear warhead version was one of the first warheads to be battlefield-ready with an "enhanced radiation" (neutron bomb) capability.[6] Conventional munitions included single conventional shaped-charge warhead for penetrating hard targets and for bunker busting or a cluster configuration containing 836 M74 bomblets for anti-personnel and anti-materiel uses. The original design considered a chemical weapon warhead option, but this development was cancelled in 1970.[citation needed]


The Lance missile was removed from service following the end of the Cold War and was partially replaced in the conventional role by the MGM-140 ATACMS. A upgrade for LANCE was planned and named Follow-on-to-Lance (FOTL). Army planners envisioned a new missile with a range of 250 to 270 miles, considerably longer than the 70-mile range of the Lance missile, but within the limits for short-range missiles allowed under the INF Treaty. However, in the context of nuclear disarmament the NATO summit in May 1990 decided not to go forward with modernization to the FOTL standard.[7]

The Bundeswehr Museum of German Defense Technology in Koblenz has one of these rockets in its collection.



Map with former MGM-52 operators in red

Former operators

 United States United States Army

 United Kingdom British Army

 Israel Israeli Defence Forces

 Netherlands Royal Netherlands Army

 Belgium Belgian Land Component

 Italy Italian Army

 Germany German Army

See also


  1. ^ "Lance Missile (MGM-52C)". U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. August 1998. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  2. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 30 November 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ripley, Tim (1992). The new illustrated guide to the modern US Army. Salamander Books Ltd. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-86101-671-8.
  4. ^ Healy, Melissa (3 October 1987). "Senate Permits Study for New Tactical Nuclear Missile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  5. ^ A Rocket Engine Inside Another Rocket Engine - The Lance Missile - Scott Manley
  6. ^ Rybak, E.F.; Gruszczyński, J. (1998). Amerykańskie rakiety operacyjno-taktyczne i taktyczne. Cz. IV. Ku nowym wojnom. „Nowa Technika Wojskowa” Nr 7/1998, ISSN 1230-1655, p.32 (in Polish)
  7. ^ "LTV MGM-52 Lance". 17 October 2001.
  8. ^ "USAREUR Charts - LANCE Missile". Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  9. ^ "USAREUR Charts - LANCE Missile". Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  10. ^ "6th Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment".
  11. ^ "2/5FA". Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.