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Naval Weapons

HIMARS test advances USN surface-ship lethality potential

24 October 2017
The demonstration on USS (LPD 23) consisted of HIMARS engaging a land-based target with a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U) during Exercise ‘Dawn Blitz 2017’ on 22 October. Source: US Navy/MC2 Matthew Dickinson

Recent shipboard testing of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) further advances the US Navy (USN) plans for distributed lethality and also shows further portable missile capability for US forces.

HIMARS was fired 22 October from the flight deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during Exercise ‘Dawn Blitz 2017’ off the Southern California coast.

HIMARS, a US Army and US Marine Corps (USMC) weapon, is based on a five-ton vehicle and can launch Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets out to 15–70 km, and the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) out to 300 km.

During the Anchorage test, HIMARS engaged a land-based target with a GMLRS Unitary rocket, the USN said.

Anchorage proved it could support HIMARS launches and that the system and crews could “have good effects on the target”, US Army Major Adam Ropelewski, I Marine Expeditionary Force’s (MEF’s) lead planner for sea-based expeditionary fires, said in a statement. “We destroyed the target at 70 km while at sea”.

The test also helped demonstrate the potential of incorporating such offensive weapons with amphibious hulls, part of the distributed lethality concept that has been pushed by Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, for the past couple of years.

Rowden’s idea has been to install as many missiles and other offensive weapons as possible on as many surface ships – including amphibious hulls – as feasible to change the maritime battle calculus and give the enemy more “shooters” to worry about and target.

More ships with more weapons, he has argued, will provide the USN with greater sea control. Putting such weapons on amphibious ships will help take control of the coastal areas.

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