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HIMARS Rocket Launcher Evaluated for Forward Air Defense Role

The U.S. Army is evaluating augmenting HIMARS 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 Project Manager, Precision Fires Rocket & Missile Systems noted that the Army is considering HIMARS 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 HIMARS launcher offers tactical flexibility, high reliability and C-130 transportability. (more...)

HIMARS fires an AMRAAM missile during a proof of concept test of the 'Common Launcher' capability. Photo: Lockheed Martin
An important milestone in the evaluation of this new concept was recently demonstrated as an excess inventory Raytheon AMRAAM 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 at Lockheed Martin Missiles 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 U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps."

The demonstration was a coordinated effort between the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems, Cruise Missile Defense Systems, Prototype Integration Facility, Raytheon Missile Systems and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

The U.S. Army's Air Defense Artillery and Field Artillery branch schools are now consolidated under a single Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, OK, resulting in areas of commonality between the two combat arms branches. The 'common launcher' concept is one example where both air defense artillery and field artillery operational needs are jointly addressed.