M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System

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The M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System is a heavy artillery system developed for the U.S. Army, and used by a number of allied countries. It is fully-tracked artillery firing platform, which can move with tank-heavy forces, and complements rather than replaces howitzers. Like self-propelled cannons, it is intended for "shoot and scoot" tactics, in which it fires, then is moving within a minute or so, to avoid enemy counterbattery fire. It is networked into the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System.

M270 units are usually assigned to corps level, and assigned to the operational support of divisions and Brigade Combat Teams.

The vehicle proper, a M993 Carrier Vehicle, is an extended-length derivative of the M2 Bradley armored fighting vehicle. has a cab for the crew, protected against the exhaust of the rocket motor. On the rear is the M269 launcher itself, which is loaded with two sealed munitions pods, containing either six M26 or M28 rockets, 227mm in diameter and 13 feet long, or short-range M30 or M31 surface-to-surface missiles, or one MGM-140 ATACMS tactical ballistic missile. It can fire:[1]

  • Twelve rockets in less than 60 seconds at up to six aimpoints.
  • Two missiles in less than 20 seconds at one or two aimpoints.

Originally, it fired the M26 rocket, with a 20 mile range, the payload of which is 644 M77 cluster munitions. While these could be devastating against area targets, there remained an unsolved problem that too many of the submunitions did not detonate on ground contact, essentially creating a antipersonnel minefield in contravention of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. M26 rockets are spin-stabilized but unguided. A reduced-range M28 is a practice round for training; M26A1 and M26A2 rockets carry only 518 bomblets but have 45 mile range, and the M30, with 402 M85 bomblets, reaches out to 60 miles.

The M30 and M31 are GPS guided. To avoid the unexploded munitions problem, the M31 has a large unitary high explosive warhead.

References

  1. , Chapter 1, System Description, Field Manual 6-60 - Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Operations, U.S. Army