January 4, 2005 Lockheed Martin has received a US$109 million contract for production of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. HIMARS provides fire support for lighter, more mobile fighting forces. HIMARS is not only highly mobile on the battlefield, it is also deadly accurate to a distance of 70km thanks to being able to accommodate the entire family of Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) munitions, including the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile and Guided MLRS rocket (effectively a millimetre perfect ballistic missile with a range of 70 kilometres).
Under the contract, the Army plans to buy 37 HIMARS launchers and the Marines will buy one launcher. Total joint procurement of the system is expected to be more than 900 launchers. HIMARS can accommodate the entire family of Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) munitions, including the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile and Guided MLRS rocket.
In November 2004, HIMARS successfully completed extensive operational testing, firing the entire MLRS Family of Munitions and hundreds of practice rockets in operational environments.
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Although the First Unit Equipped (FUE) milestone is not scheduled until later this year, HIMARS prototype launchers were sent to Iraq to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, successfully completing a significant number of fire missions.
HIMARS is C-130 transportable, supports existing and new precision munitions, and it meets all of the requirements of the Future Force System.
Because of its C-130 transportability, HIMARS can be deployed into areas previously inaccessible to larger launchers. It also incorporates the self-loading, autonomous features that have made MLRS the premier rocket artillery system in the world. HIMARS carries a single six-pack of MLRS rockets, or one ATACMS missile. Its fire control system, electronics and communications units are interchangeable with the existing MLRS M270A1 launcher, and the crew and training are the same.
Additionally, HIMARS is capable of launching the new Guided MLRS, the next major step in the evolution of the MLRS Family of Munitions, offering advanced capabilities, reduced logistics support and precision attack. Designed to enable troops to engage and defeat artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and personnel carriers, as well as support troop and supply concentrations, after launching, HIMARS can move away from the area at high speed before enemy forces are able to locate the launch site.