Military Review

ER GMLRS guided missile: early successes and the future of US rocket artillery

22

ER GMLRS rocket design


In the interests of the ground artillery of the US Army and foreign customers, a new guided missile for multiple launch rocket systems is being created. The ER GMLRS product is a further development of the existing GMLRS missile, featuring an increased firing range. By now, the development company Lockheed Martin has completed design work and has begun flight tests.

"Increased range"


In 2004, the M30 GMLRS (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System) guided projectile was adopted by the US rocket artillery. This product received a new engine that provides firing at a range of up to 60 km, as well as an inertial and satellite guidance system. The M30 projectile made it possible to seriously improve the combat characteristics of the M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS MLRSs. In the future, they created several of its modifications with different combat equipment.

In the mid-tenths, the Pentagon ordered the development of the next version of the rocket with an increased range - up to 150 km. This project was named ER GMLRS (Extended Range GMLRS); the contract for its development was received by Lockheed Martin. Over the past several years, the contractor has carried out the necessary design work, and at the end of last year, the project moved to a new stage.

ER GMLRS guided missile: early successes and the future of US rocket artillery

Launching a GMLRS rocket with the M270

In October 2020, the Lockheed-Martin company announced the start of preparatory work for the subsequent flight tests of the new rocket. After the necessary ground checks, test firing was supposed to begin in November. Despite all the difficulties, these plans were carried out, although their results were unsatisfactory.

flight tests


The first test launch of the new ER GMLRS rocket took place in November last year, on time, but ended in failure. After leaving the transport and launch container, the stabilizer broke down, due to which the rocket could not continue its flight. Lockheed Martin had to spend several months figuring out the causes of the accident and finding a way to prevent it in new launches.

The first successful launch took place on March 4 at the White Sands test site. The tests involved a HIMARS-type launcher and one experimental ammunition. The rocket got off the guide, without any problems or malfunctions went to the required trajectory and, having passed the intended route, fell in the calculated area. The firing range was 80 km - a third more than the maximum range of M30 / 31 shells.


The development company reports that the experimental rocket has confirmed all the calculated characteristics. Full compatibility with the equipment of the serial launcher has been confirmed, and the calculated flight path and the desired range have been obtained. The first launch was recognized as completely successful, which allows the continuation of flight tests.

Plans for the future


According to the test plan, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin are to conduct four test launches at the end of this fiscal year. As the tests continue, it is planned to increase the firing range and work out various design features. The fourth launch will be carried out at the end of the second quarter, and the experimental ER GMLRS missile will have to hit a conditional target at a distance of 150 km.

Lockheed Martin will soon begin mass production of new missiles at its plant in Camden, Arkansas. The line will start in early FY2022. The production and transfer of the first batch of weapons to the customer will take no more than a few weeks. Serial products for the army will receive indexes M30A2 and M31A2, depending on the combat equipment.


The use of an unguided missile of the old model by the M142 installation

It is expected that the launch of mass production of new missiles will not face any problems. To date, Lockheed Martin has manufactured and handed over to the army and foreign customers more than 50 thousand M30 and M30A1 GMLRS guided missiles, over 9 thousand newer M31 (A1) and 1800 practical shells. The ER GMLRS project provides for the modernization of the basic projectile by installing several new units, and, apparently, this does not lead to a critical complication of production.

The first export order has already been received. The first foreign operator of such weapons will become Finland. Its army wants 25 transport and launch containers with M30A2 missiles and 10 TPK with M31A2 products, six missiles each. The total value of the contract exceeds $ 91 million. It should be noted that since 2015, the Finnish army has been armed with M30A1 and M31A1 GMLRS missiles.

Technical features


The ER GMLRS guided missile is created on the basis of the GMLRS serial product and should show significant advantages in firing range. For its use, an updated TPK for six missiles has been developed with the ability to be installed on MLRS and HIMARS vehicles. Long range shooting requires a launcher software update.


The process of reloading the M142 installation using a standard TPK

The main innovation of the project with the letters "ER" is a new solid-fuel engine with an increased diameter with increased thrust parameters. According to calculations, it should provide a flight at a range of up to 150 km. So far, in practice, more modest characteristics have been shown, but in this case, the upgraded rocket outperforms existing production models.

The controls have been radically rebuilt. The production GMLRS are equipped with a fold-out tail stabilizer and rudders. In the ER GMLRS project, steering surfaces are transferred to the tail section. Navigation and calculation of flight commands is carried out using the inertial system and GPS. By changing the guidance systems, it was possible to increase the maneuverability and control accuracy, which makes it possible to more fully realize the energy potential of the rocket and obtain the maximum possible flight range.

The new project retains the already existing options for combat equipment. M30A2 and M31A2 missiles can carry a cluster warhead with 40 M85 elements or one of three unitary high-explosive fragmentation charges with different characteristics. Rocket projectiles with such warheads are suitable for attacking point or area targets with known coordinates.


Expected Benefits


Currently, the range of fire of rocket artillery of the United States and friendly countries in the form of M270 and M142 is limited to 60 km. To attack more distant targets, it is proposed to use ATACMS operational-tactical missiles, compatible with the same launchers. The use of such missiles, with all their advantages, is not always justified in terms of complexity and cost. In addition, the US Army plans to gradually abandon the ATACMS OTRK in favor of newer systems of the same class.

The advent of ER GMLRS rockets will increase the firing range of smaller caliber ammunition without sacrificing volley size, accuracy and other combat qualities. At the same time, this will lead to an expansion of the range of ammunition for combatant MLRS, which will positively affect the flexibility of use and simplify the preparation of strikes.

Thus, in the near future, the US rocket artillery is waiting for an important and necessary, as well as an uncomplicated and not the most expensive upgrade. However, while the new ER GMLRS missiles are not ready for the launch of the series and acceptance into service. Of the four planned test launches, only two were carried out, and only one of them was successful and did not confirm the maximum design range.

Probably, the next two launches, scheduled for this year, will go without malfunctions and lead to the launch of rearmament. With a favorable set of circumstances, the Pentagon will even be able to meet the planned deadlines. How the current project will end, and whether the customer and the contractor can count on a quick and high-quality completion of the work, will become known in the coming months.
Author:
Photos used:
Lockheed Martin, US Department of Defense
22 comments
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  1. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik 17 March 2021 18: 29
    +9
    They qualitatively took up the modernization of HIMARS and MLRS missiles. They are testing PrSM to replace ATACMS, it is hypersonic (a little more than 5M), the seeker allows you to work on land / sea stationary and mobile targets, the number of missiles on the installation, increases to 2 missiles for HIMARS and 4 for MLRS, range up to 800 km. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon compete in the competition for its creation. The work is in the interests of the Army and the ILC.
    Most likely there will be several options for the GOS. The army does not need all the functionality. Hypersonic speed is more of a marketing nature and will be achieved in certain modes, but it will still fly very quickly.



    1. war.t0p
      war.t0p 17 March 2021 18: 56
      +1
      In general, they have the very idea of ​​using packages on MLRS and OTRK sound
      1. OgnennyiKotik
        OgnennyiKotik 17 March 2021 19: 06
        +1
        There are ±. Yet they make weapons for their realities, we for theirs. They have 800 bases around the world, complex logistics, so maximum unification is needed. We have a huge land border and other needs. We need more advanced artillery, MLRS and OTRK. Which is what we have. The same Iskander was the best OTRK and remains. The Tornado already has a rocket for 120 km. Loading "one at a time" has the advantage that you can combine missiles, send a partial package, then reload, and so on.
        1. war.t0p
          war.t0p 17 March 2021 19: 18
          +6
          Isn't it possible with the same MLRS to simultaneously use 2 packages with different missiles like here, for example? the combination is also obtained

    2. Intruder
      Intruder 17 March 2021 23: 02
      +6
      They qualitatively took up the modernization of HIMARS and MLRS missiles

      Well, rightly so, why rivet new types that have no analogues, if there is potential for modernization in a well-thought-out constructive solution, even at the development stage:
  2. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 17 March 2021 19: 03
    +8
    Of the Russian MLRS, perhaps only one system meets the requirements of the modern world "fashion" ... MLRS "Uragan-1M"! What is meant ? Well, first of all, multi-caliber! At the first stage, a bicaliber system was created in calibers 220 mm and 300 mm ... Unfortunately, after that the development of the system "stalled"! But in vain! Adding TPK with eres in calibers 122 mm and 400 (370) mm ... OTP in caliber 600 mm, we would get a powerful multi-caliber multifunctional rocket system with the prospect of further development! We would have received a true "Tornado", and not these modernized "Grads" and "Tornadoes" shamefully covered by the signboard "Tornado"!
    1. Cympak
      Cympak 17 March 2021 22: 58
      0
      I think it's the OSHS. "Grad", "Hurricane", "Tornado" - these are systems of different levels of subordination.
    2. Tcheluskin
      Tcheluskin 13 May 2021 21: 59
      0
      As I understand it, the Hurricane's caliber of 220 mm turned out to be superfluous when the 122 mm grew to the same range. The Uragan-122M is too big for 1 mm. OTR, I think, differ significantly in tasks from MLRS, and are in service with different units.
      If in the 21st century MLRS were made from scratch, then probably containers should have been provided; and changing the existing infrastructure is ambiguous.
      Here's a quick mechanism for selectively loading Grad missiles - would be helpful.
  3. lucul
    lucul 17 March 2021 19: 09
    -16%
    They qualitatively took up the modernization of HIMARS and MLRS missiles.

    Good target for a helicopter)))
    1. SovAr238A
      SovAr238A 17 March 2021 22: 29
      +2
      Quote: lucul
      They qualitatively took up the modernization of HIMARS and MLRS missiles.

      Good target for a helicopter)))


      Will the helicopter "go" 15-20 km deep into the enemy territory painlessly?
      1. Intruder
        Intruder 17 March 2021 23: 04
        +2
        Will the helicopter "go" 15-20 km deep into the enemy territory painlessly?
        he will crawl her on his belly, at night it is not noticeable, fingering with his blades ... laughing wink, on a silent "electric traction"! ??? fellow
        1. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik 17 March 2021 23: 16
          -3
          Quote: Intruder
          he will crawl it on his belly, at night it is not noticeable, fingering with blades ..., on a silent "electric traction"! ???

          By the way, you guessed completely. At an altitude below 50 meters, ground-based air defense systems will see it point-blank or not at all. With eclectic engines and will not be heard. The Turks are developing just this.
          Today in the United States, an Apache with a Spike NLOS missile hit a target at a distance of 32 km (20 miles), which means that the Apache being at an altitude of 15-20 meters at this range is invisible to ground-based radars and can destroy them with impunity.
          We need massive radar systems for UAVs.
          1. Intruder
            Intruder 18 March 2021 00: 46
            0
            By the way, completely guessed
            Thank you for your kind words !!! hi
            We need massive radar systems for UAVs.
            , there is a lot of things that are needed and already today responding to the challenges of the day, even multispectral OES, also for UAVs, with minimal power consumption, because the world does not live with one type of radar - in our time of passive systems!?, now you can assemble a HUV-module based on metal nitrides with DSP processing the useful signal and detect the launches of the missile launcher, or rather their optical signature, from the taxiway torch, and this is already a digital fingerprint (with unique radiation parameters), which can then be identified, whose production and from where, also by the types of taxiways, then for air defense as Isn't it fun to be, plus and proof for political debate in the disputes of the parties !? wink
            1. OgnennyiKotik
              OgnennyiKotik 18 March 2021 01: 04
              +1
              The issue of the range of the detection systems. The range and speed of weapons is growing. And they fly low.
              If, in my example, the radar antennas are raised by 1 km, the range of direct radio visibility will increase to 150 km.
              An antenna or a radar antenna unit is installed on a helicopter-type UAV or 4/8 screw, power supply via a wire from the ground station and mini AWACS is ready. It seems that something like that is already being done.
              1. Intruder
                Intruder 18 March 2021 01: 37
                0
                An antenna or a radar antenna unit is installed on a helicopter-type UAV or 4/8 screw, power supply via a wire from the ground station and mini AWACS is ready.
                very close wrote in the comments laughing , even in my work, I can say so, without revealing some interesting points of a technical nature laughing NDA limits .. sorry !!! There is such an interesting Coande effect (a), this is an area that has not yet been plowed for some "micro-letters" - like: MAV ... request
          2. Dread
            Dread 18 March 2021 12: 59
            -5
            Quote: OgnennyiKotik
            By the way, you guessed completely. At an altitude below 50 meters, ground-based air defense systems see point-blank or not at all. With eclectic engines and will not be heard. The Turks are developing just this.

            OgnennyiKotik - do not write children's stories - without understanding the physics of the propagation of electromagnetic waves and the reaction time. UAV or helicopter - will be easily shot down by the Pantsir-C2, Pantsir-SM complexes, etc.
            OgnennyiKotik - learn the equation of direct range - propagandist ...
  4. Doccor18
    Doccor18 17 March 2021 19: 22
    +1
    Of the four planned test launches, only two were carried out, and only one of them was successful and did not confirm the maximum design range.

    Probably, the next two launches, scheduled for this year, will go without problems and lead to the launch of rearmament. 

    Only 4 ..? And immediately rearmament. But...
  5. Warrior MorePhoto
    Warrior MorePhoto 17 March 2021 22: 06
    -3
    The recently shown Rubezh complex, I see it as mandatory for deliveries not only to the coastal forces, but also to the land forces. The X 35 missile is relatively inexpensive, with a range close to 300 km. At the moment, point neutralization (for example, the main "heavy" or dangerous) targets is very good. 4 missiles, the ability to act alone, receive information from reconnaissance and also the complex itself to conduct reconnaissance and strike. It is ideal to make an unmanned version that will be able to move away from the command post at a distance of 5-10 km and launch it on "order".
    Well ... there is Tos 10 km, Tornado G 40 km, Tornado C 120, then a gap and the road Iskander 500 km (officially). Accordingly, it will close a niche at a distance of 120 - 300 km, and this is a fairly serious tactical depth where there can be many serious targets for an attack.
    1. Cympak
      Cympak 17 March 2021 23: 10
      +4
      The Kh-35 rocket is a priori much more expensive than even a guided MLRS missile: a turbojet engine, an altimeter, an advanced control system, a seeker, etc. It flies for a long time at subsonic speed. you need to solve the problem of avoiding obstacles, because the land has a different relief in contrast to the sea surface (i.e., an expensive GOS is needed: either a lidar, or an ARGSN and a control system). Conclusion: MLRS - faster and cheaper.
  6. Avior
    Avior 18 March 2021 11: 59
    +2
    Such rockets are asking for Zamwolt instead of the second weapon. Cheaper, simpler, faster rate of fire.
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 20 March 2021 00: 58
      -2
      They also think about something similar, although we are talking about hypersonic missiles.
      https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/39867/navy-wants-triple-packed-hypersonic-missile-modules-on-its-stealthy-zumwalt-destroyers
  7. Maksim_ok
    Maksim_ok April 13 2021 15: 33
    0
    cassette warheads are no longer used. Only unitary and unitary increased fragmentation impact AW (ready-made elements in the form of balls of two sizes) Regarding the GMLRS-ER, it must be clarified that the range of 80 km was achieved by the latest modification of the "usual" GMLRS missile, but the GMLRS-ER is already a more advanced version that while in the process of working out. in general, the US Army is seriously working on systems. that should cover all firing ranges from the minimum up to 6-7 thousand km.
    This is an experienced self-propelled gun XM1299 with a barrel length of 58 calibers, which showed a firing range of 70 km with an Excalibur projectile (direct hit into the OTP model), this is GMLRS / GMLRS-ER (up to 80-150 km) ATACMS up to 270 km, the new OTR PrSM up to 500 +, the army was also interested in the "naval" Tomahawk Block 5 and SM-6 missiles to defeat ground targets (up to 1500 km) and, in the future, a new system of ground hypersonic weapons with a single (for three military branches) detachable maneuverable hypersonic warhead (6-7 thousand km)