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      1. MULTIPLE LAUNCH ROCKET SYSTEM (MLRS)

        MLRS

        Description:



        Artillery rocket system mounted on a tracked vehicle.

        Features: The Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is a free-flight artillery rocket system that delivers large volumes of firepower in a short time. The system is used to attack enemy artillery, materiel and personnel targets and suppress enemy air defenses. It consists of a launcher, two disposable pods, each containing six rockets or one missile, a fire control system, and an aiming device. The carrier is a derivative of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

        Background: The Army received the MLRS in 1983. There are currently 528 launchers and 373,668 rockets in the Army inventory. At the completion of the planned buy, the Army will have 1,623 launchers and 481,110 rockets. The basic warhead carries dual-purpose improved conventional submunitions (bomblets).

        diagram


        Launcher and Subsystems:

        M270 Launcher: The M270 launcher is a highly mobile, lightly armored, tracked carrier vehicle with a launcher-loader module (LLM) mounted on the vehicle bed (see Figure 1-1). The launcher consists of a three-man crew (section chief, gunner, and driver). Personal equipment is stored in the crew's equipment storage containers located in the carrier under the LLM cage.

        The M270 launcher has two major configurations. The US has a system that can fire rockets and missiles; the memorandum of understanding (MOU) nations have M270 launchers which can only fire rockets. The difference between them is the payload interface module (PIM), a new stabilization reference package/position determining system (SRP/PDS) and software special applications packages (SPAPS).

        M993 Carrier Vehicle: The carrier vehicle is a longer version of the Bradley fighting vehicle with nearly 80 percent common components. It is 6.3 meters (m) (22 feet [ft] 11 inches [in]) long, 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) high, and 2.97 m (6 ft 9 in) wide. When heaviest (loaded with M26 rocket LPCs), the launcher weighs approximately 24,036 kilograms (kg) (52,990 pounds). It can climb 60 percent slopes, traverse a 40 percent side slope, ford 1.1 m (40 in) of water, and climb 1 m vertical walls. The launcher has a cruising range of 483 km (300 miles) and can be transported by C-14lB and larger cargo aircraft.

        The vehicle cab is constructed of aluminum armor plate, providing ballistic protection to the crew. It is fitted with an M13A1 gas particulate filter unit that protects the crew from chemical and biological agents and radioactive particles. It also has a vehicle cab overpressure system to protect the crew from toxic rocket and missile exhaust.

        M269 Launcher-Loader Module: The LLM consists of two sections--a mechanical section and an electrical section. These sections work together in order to perform all firing and non-firing functions.

        LLM Mechanical Section: The mechanical section consists of base, turret, and cage assemblies. The base assembly provides for the physical mounting of the LLM to the carrier. Both the turret and base assemblies house the electronics and hydraulics of the launcher drive system (LDS) that actually perform the rotation and elevation functions the LLM. The cage assembly performs two important functions. First, the structure of the cage assembly aligns, holds, and protects the launch pods. Second, two boom and hoist assemblies mounted in the cage assembly give the launcher crew a built-in ammunition loading and unloading capability.

        LLM Electrical Section: The electrical section consists of three subsystems: the primary power supply, the communications system, and the FCS.

        Primary Power Supply: The primary power supply is the source of power for all launcher equipment. It uses standard military lead acid batteries to provide 24 volts of power to the launcher components. It also controls the distribution of power through the use of switching relays.

        Communications System: The launcher communications system includes a secure -12 series frequency modulated (FM) radio and one communications mode selector control (CMSC) device or the newer singlechannel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS) AN/VRC-92A radio system with embedded communications security (COMSEC) capability. The CMSC detects an incoming signal, determines whether it is digital or voice traffic, and automatically routes it to the secure FM radio in the proper mode for decryption. The CMSC is not required if using SINCGARS with embedded COMSEC. Each crew member has a combat vehicle crewman (CVC) helmet that is connected to an AN/VIC-1 intercom system.

        Fire Control System: The FCS functions with the other launcher components to provide overall control of the LLM. It monitors, coordinates, and controls all electronic devices used during a launch cycle. The FCS consists of the fire control panel (FCP), electronics unit (EU), fire control unit (FCU), boom controller (BC), short/no-voltage tester (SNVT), SRP/PDS, PIM, program load unit (PLU), and communications processor (CMP).


        Associated Equipment

        Ammunition Resupply Vehicle and Trailer (HEMTT/HEMAT): The M985 HEMTT is a 10-ton, 8-wheel or 8-wheel-drive truck with a 5,400-pound lift capacity materiel-handling crane. A secure FM radio provides voice command and control capability. The rearmounted crane can traverse 360° to the left or right. Both the HEMTT and the HEMAT can be loaded and unloaded with the crane. The HEMAT does not have to be unhooked from the HEMTT. The truck carries four launch pods with a gross vehicle weight of 59,000 pounds.

        Its operating range is 300 miles, and it can climb a 30 percent slope. The HEMTT has a 445-horsepower diesel engine with an automatic transmission. It can be transported by C-130 and C-141B aircraft in an unloaded configuration and by C-5A/C-5B aircraft in a loaded tactical configuration.

        diagram

        The M989A1 HEMAT can carry four launch pods and has a fully loaded gross weight of 31,000 pounds (see Figure 1-10). The trailer can be towed by a launcher in an emergency.

        diagram

        Command, Control and Communications System: Tactical command and control and technical fire direction of MLRS units is provided through a C3 system. The C3 system includes the radio system, FED, FCS, FDS, and in some units, the FDDM. This system is designed to be integrated with several Army and Air Force command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) systems to optimize fire support system employment and effectiveness. The MLRS C3 system also can be used to conduct and execute command and control without external C3 input during independent operations. This independent C3 capability exists at battalion, battery, and platoon levels. The hub of the MLRS C3 system is the MLRS FDS and FDDM. The FDS/FDDM can communicate digitally with the following systems:

          M270 FCS
        • The Tactical Fire Direction System (TACFIRE, LTACFIRE, and MCFSS)
        • The Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS)/li>
        • Firefinder Radar (AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37)
        • Meteorological Data System (MDS)
        • Meteorological Measuring Set (MMS)
        • Initial Fire Support Automated System (IFSAS)
        • The Forward Entry Device (FED)

        Fire Direction System The MLRS Fire Direction FDS provides tactical fire direction and data communications for command and control at the MLRS platoon, battery, and battalion. Initialization procedures define the FDS capabilities for the specific echelon. The FDS (AN/GYK-37) consists of the lightweight computer unit (LCU), tactical communications interface module (TCIM), the AC/DC converter/charger, the TCIM wireline adapter, and the printer (see Figure 1-11).

        System Components:

        M270 Launcher: Each launcher has the onboard capability to receive a fire mission, determine its location, compute firing data, orient on the target, and fire. Each bay of the launcher must be loaded with the same type munition. Once laid and armed, the launcher can fire:
        • Twelve rockets in less than 60 seconds at up to six aimpoints.
        • Two missiles in less than 20 seconds at one or two aimpoints.

        Launch Pod/Containers and Guided Missile Launch Assemblies: Each launch pod container (LPC) holds six rockets, and each guided/missile launch assembly (GMLA) holds one missile. The pods are stenciled with the DOD identification code (DODIC). This is the same code that is displayed on the fire control panel (FCP) when ammunition status is displayed to the M270 crew members.

        Ammunition Resupply Vehicles and Trailers: The ammunition resupply capability for MLRS is provided by the heavy expanded mobility tactical truck (HEMTT) M985 and the heavy expanded mobility ammunition trailer (HEMAT) M989/M989Al. Each one can carry four rocket/missile pods for a total of 48 rockets or eight missiles in a HEMTT and HEMAT load (the HEMAT M989 is limited to two launch pods during peacetime operations, but the HEMAT M989A1 does not have this limitation).

        Command, Control, and Communications System: The MLRS has an automated command, control, and communications (C3) system to provide command and control of subordinate launchers and to facilitate communication on the battlefield. Major components of the C3 system are the fire control system (FCS), located in the launcher, and the fire direction system (FDS), located at the platoon. Only selected batteries and battalions have the fire direction data manager (FDDM).

        MLRS Family of Munitions


        Launch Pod: Each M270 holds either two LPCs or two GMLAs (not a mix of the two) in the LLM (see Figure 1-3). Each launch pod contains either six rocket tubes or one missile housing in a containerized shipping, storage, and launch frame. Rockets and missiles are factory assembled and tested. Rockets are stored in fiberglass containers; missiles are stored in an aluminum enclosure with fiberglass camouflage panels on the exterior. Both rockets and missiles are then mounted on the frame. Both the rocket tubes and the missile housing are connected by cable to common electrical connectors. Not only are handling, transport, and loading fixtures similar, the LPC and GMLA are also visually similar.

        diagram

        The launch pod is 4.04m (13 ft 2 in) long (without skids) and 1.05 m (3 ft 5 in) wide. The height of the pod is 0.84 m (2 ft 9 in) with skids and 0.72 m (2 ft 4 in) without skids. When loaded with rockets (tactical or practice), each LPC weighs 2,270 kg (5,005 pounds). A loaded GMLA weighs 2,095 kg (4,609 pounds), and an inert training GMLA weighs 1,360 kg (2,998 pounds).

        Four aluminum bulkheads provide rigidity to the frame and support for the rocket tube or missile housing. Tiedown and lifting D-rings are located on the top of the frame at the four corners. A lifting rod is installed for lifting the container by the launcher boom and hoist assemblies.

        Stacking pins at the top four corners of the frame permit stacking of the launch pods. They can be stacked two high during transport and four high during storage. They can be handled by forklift, since they have two inner bulkheads that serve as support members. Each launch pod is marked for the center of gravity and proper lift areas.

        The detachable skids mounted to the bottom four corners of the frame must be removed from the pod before it is loaded into the LLM. A quick-release pull pin allows easy removal of the skids. The GMLA also has a lifting rod cover which must be removed before being loaded into the LLM.

        The changing of rocket and missile pods requires a repositioning of the loading hoist assembly system.

        Rockets: The MLRS rockets are tube-launched, spin-stabilized, free-flight projectiles. The rockets are assembled, checked, and packaged in a dual-purpose launch-storage tube at the factory. This design provides for tactical loading and firing of the rocket without troop assembly or detailed inspection. Major components of the rocket assembly include four stabilizer fins, a propulsion section, and a warhead section.

        diagram

        Propulsion for the rocket is provided by a solid propellant rocket motor. An umbilical cable, passing through the aft end of the launch tube, links the FCS to an igniter in the rocket nozzle. The motor is ignited by an electrical command from the FCS.

        Each rocket is packaged with the four fins folded and secured by wire rope retaining straps. As the rocket moves forward upon firing, lanyard devices trigger a delayed strap-cutting charge. After the rocket leaves the launch tube, the charge cuts the straps. This allows the fins to unfold and lock. The M28 and M28A1 rockets' LPCs have an additional fin release device to ensure deployment.

        The MLRS rocket follows a ballistic, free-flight (unguided) trajectory to the target. The propulsion provided by the solid propellant rocket motor is the same for each rocket, so rocket range is a function of LLM elevation. The four stabilizer fins at the aft end of the rocket provide in-flight stability by maintaining a constant counterclockwise spin. The initial spin is imparted to the rocket through spin rails mounted on the inner wall of the launch tube.

        M26 Rocket: This is the basic rocket for MLRS. It is used against personnel, soft and lightly armored targets normally with a target location error (TLE) of 150 m or less. Larger TLEs may reduce effectiveness. Each rocket dispenses 644 M77 dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) submunitions over the target area.

        Warhead event is initiated by an electronic time fuze (M445) that is set remotely by the FCS immediately before ignition of the rocket motor. The fuze triggers a center burster charge. This causes the warhead to rupture, the polyurethane filler to shatter, and the submunitions to be spread over the target area.

        M77 Submunition Description: The armed M77 submunitions detonate on impact. The antimateriel capability is provided through a shaped charge with a built-in standoff. The M77 can penetrate up to four inches of armor. Its steel case fragments and produces antipersonnel effects with a radius of 4m.

        diagram

        Extended Range Rocket: The extended range (ER) rocket is an evolution of the basic M26 rocket that extends the range to 45-plus km. This greater range capability is achieved through a 20 percent reduction in the number of submunitions and a modified rocket motor. It has at least the same accuracy as the basic M26 rocket. ER-rocket accuracy is enhanced by an improved rocket detent located in the launch tube. Additionally, the wind measuring device (WMD), a component of the future Improved FCS, updates the firing solution prior to launch at the firing point with corrected low level wind readings. The effectiveness of the M26 rocket is maintained in the ERrocket even though the submunition payload has been decreased. This is due to the improved center core burster and a reduction in the dud rate, made possible by an improved drag ribbon design and the incorporation of a self-destruct fuze.

        Missiles: The Army TACMS missiles are ballistically launched, inertially guided missiles. They are designed to carry a variety of submunitions, to include "smart" munitions and lethal mechanisms to provide a wide range of future capabilities. Currently, the Army has only the M39 missile.

        Missile Assembly: The missile has four sections: the guidance and control section, propulsion section, control section, and the warhead assembly.

        diagram

        Guidance and Control Section (GCS): The GCS provides all navigation, guidance, autopilot, and internal communications functions for the Army TACMS missile while in flight and for all ground operations. Continuous determination of position, attitude, and motion are provided by the inertial sensors, associated electronics, and software processing. Guidance and autopilot functions are provided by software processing within the GCS computer. All communications, both internal and external to the missile (missile to launcher and/or ground support equipment), are provided by the GCS electronics and software. This includes communications with the M270 FCS electronics for launch control, the ground support equipment for maintenance, and the control system electronics unit (CSEU) for missile fin actuator control.

        Propulsion Section: The solid rocket motor furnishes the energy necessary to launch the missile and sustain missile flight for a sufficient time to meet Army TACMS altitude and range requirements. The solid rocket motor consists of a motor case, propellant, insulation/liner, nozzle, and igniter arm/fire assembly.

        Control Section: The primary functions of the control section assembly are to position the missile fins, provide the missile electrical power while in flight, and support selected pyrotechnic functions.

        Warhead Assembly: The primary function of the warhead assembly is to carry, protect, and dispense the missile payload. The warhead assembly consists of a rolled aluminum shell with aluminum support structures and front and rear bulkheads. A center tube connects the bulkheads and provides a central wire route. In addition to the payload, the warhead assembly contains a skin severance system which controls the release of the payload at the required time.

        Army TACMS Block IA: The Block IA missile carries approximately 300 M74 bomblets. A GPS receiver will be integrated into the missile which allows it to receive positioning data updates for increased accuracy. The Block IA missile ranges targets from 100 to 300 km.

        Army TACMS Block II: Block II employs the brilliant antiarmor technology submunition (BAT). The Block II missile ranges targets from 35 km to 140 km. The Block II payload consists of thirteen BAT submunitions which are equipped with both acoustic and infrared sensors that give each submunition the capability of acquiring and attacking moving armor targets. After the dispense from the main warhead, each BAT submunition autonomously seeks an individual target within a moving armor column with its acoustic sensor. Once each submunition is close enough to its selected target vehicle, the inbred seeker is activatated and provides guidance during the terminal trajectory. The BAT submunition has a tandem shaped charge warhead designed to defeat all known reactive armor.

        diagram

        Army TACMS Block IIA: Block IIA employs an improved BAT submunition that is effective against both hard and soft, moving and stationary targets. The Block IIA payload consists of six improved BAT submunitions which are equipped with sensors that give each submunition the capability of acquiring the target regardless of whether an inbred signature exists. The improved BAT submunition has a multipurpose design to kill both hard and soft targets at ranges that exceed the Block II missile.


        PHOTOS

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