USA Moves to Update Its M270 Rocket Launchers
In June 2012, Lockheed Martin announced a $27.1 million contract from the U.S. Army for Phase 1 of a 3-year development program to update its fleet of 225 M270A1 tracked Multiple Launch Rocket System launchers. Lockheed Martin will upgrade, assemble and test 7 prototype vehicles, which will include new up-armored launching cabs with “energy absorbing” seats for mine blast mitigation, and and an updated fire control panel that offers commonality with the newer truck-mounted M142 HIMARS launcher. Subsequent phases of this program will refit the US Army’s entire fleet. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for M270A1 research and development, and is partnered with BAE Systems.
The M270 carries a pair of rocket pods (instead of HIMARS’ single pod), each of which can hold either 6 x 227mm guided or unguided rockets, or a single ATACMS missile with a range of up to 300 miles. Britain fielded its own set of M270 self-protection upgrades in 2008, including additional armor for defense against rockets and mines, thermal imaging sensors, and a machine gun up top for self-defense.