Theis evaluating augmenting with forward based air defense capability, as part of the “common launcher” concept, accommodating future air defense, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and ATACMS munitions. Col. Dave Rice, U.S Army ProjectManager, Precision Fires Rocket & Missile Systems noted that the Army is considering for the ‘common launcher’ concept because it is already in the force, it’s very deployable. “It’s a great platform to be a common launcher, and we’ve now shown it can successfully fire air defense missiles.” In addition to its capability to support multi-mission munitions, the launcher offers tactical flexibility, high reliability and C-130 transportability.
An important milestone in the evaluation of this new concept was recently demonstrated as an excess inventoryAMRAAM air defense missiles were fired from a Lockheed martin produced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher. Two missiles were fired during the test, conducted at the White Sands Missile Range, NM. The”proof of concept” firing was designed to examine the viability of firing a rail-launched air defense missile from the currently-fielded HIMARS utilizing an empty Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) enclosure assembly.
“We believe this test firing shows that HIMARS is a feasible ‘common launcher’ candidate,” said Scott Arnold, vice president for Precision Fires atMissiles and Fire Control. “We’ve shown we can effectively modify the onboard fire control software and successfully fire air defense missiles from this reliable and deployable system that is already in the hands of the and U.S. Marine Corps.”
The demonstration was a coordinated effort between theProgram Executive Office Missiles and Space, Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems, Cruise Missile Defense Systems, Prototype Integration Facility, Missile Systems and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
The U.S. Army’sArtillery and Field Artillery branch schoolsare now consolidated under a single Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, OK, resulting in areas of commonality between the two combat armsbranches. The ‘common launcher’ concept is one example where both air defense artillery and field artillery operational needs are jointly addressed.