Bahrain looks to Buy More ATACMS Missiles
Nov 4/10: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Bahrain’s formal request to buy 30 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) T2K Unitary Missiles, Missile Common Test Device software, ATACMS Quality Assurance Team support, publications and technical documentation, training, and other forms of U.S. government and contractor support. The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin Industries in Camden, AR, and the estimated cost is up to $70 million. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of approximately 3 government or contractor representatives to travel to Bahrain for a period of 2 weeks for equipment de-processing/fielding, system checkout and training.
M-140 ATACMS missiles can be fired from Bahrain’s M270 MLRS rocket launchers, which received an upgrade contract in March 2009. An ATACMS missile takes up a full firing pod within the M270’s twin-pod layout, and the Unitary Block IA missile replaces the M74 submunitions in previous ATACMS variants with a 500-pound WDU18 unitary warhead, making them especially effective against fortifications and bunkers. The missiles have a range that is described as “up to 300 km,” (180 miles, which keeps it within key treaties) and use GPS guidance to hit their target.
The DSCA announcement adds that “The Bahrain Defense Forces intends to expand its existing army architecture to counter major regional threats.” For readers who may be wondering, a 300 km range could hit some Iranian territory from Bahrain, but it’s a small slice, and high-profile facilities like Bushehr lie beyond that range. The ATACMS ballistic missile has a regional reputation, however, as it has written most of its combat history there. It was employed for the first time in 1991, during the Gulf War military campaign in Kuwait and Iraq. The Block IA Unitary missile was combat proven during operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Bahrain already possesses ATACMS missiles, alongside the USA, Greece, South Korea, and Turkey.