Canada Seeks MLRS Rocket Systems
Canada’s military has decided that it needs longer-range artillery to support its front-line troops, and they think they’ve found it. The tracked M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) was originally developed as an assault-breaker weapon, meant to destroy Warsaw Pact formations as they advanced into NATO territory. It first achieved prominence in the 1991 Desert Storm operation, where its M26 227mm rockets’ performance against Iraqi troops gave it the nickname “steel rain.” The current war has seen significant changes, in particular the GPS-guided M30/M31 GMLRS rocket. It converts the system from an area-effect weapon, to something British forces call “the 70 km sniper.” The British have even modified their M270s for use in the Afghan theater, while the USA has used the M270 and its smaller, truck-mounted M142 HIMARS cousin with great success in Iraq. See DID’s coverage regarding their use during key battles in Tal Afar.
Canada also serves in Afghanistan, and has shipped a handful of M777 ultra-lightweight towed howitzers and GPS-guided Excalibur shells into theater. Those weapons offer effective responses to the Taliban’s Chinese-made mortars and rockets, and allied support from longer-range systems like the Dutch PzH-2000NL mobile howitzers and British MLRS systems has supplemented those efforts. Now a combination of those experiences, American and British successes, and the need for a longer-range strike option that doesn’t depend on the presence of allied airpower and good conditions for its use, are pushing the Canadians toward an MLRS buy of their own.
Contracts and Key Events
Dec 23/08: The Canadian government issues MERX Letter of Interest solicitation #W847L-08PM02/A for up to 17 “Long Range Precision Rocket System” (LRPRS) launchers.
A wide variety of systems might satisfy that description, but the Canadian DND has continued the trend of writing its specifications in ways that allow only one product. The system has to be “fully developed and battle proven,” in use by other NATO armies, and capable of firing precision-guided munitions. With Britain’s HIMARs-like LIMAWS-R system and the 300mm MBRL from Turkey’s Roketsan eliminated by those criteria, the M270 MLRS or M142 HIMARS are left as the only remaining candidates. Training, spares, and in-service support are also requested. MERX LoI reproduction on CASR.
Nov 19/08: Denmark announces plans to sell its 12 M270 MLRS systems, which have sat in storage since their upgrade to M270A1 status in 2001.
As CASR points out, Canada would have to do its own sourcing for training, spares, and support if it decided to pursue this opportunity. M30 GMLRS precision-guided rockets would also have to be sourced separately, but that would be true in any event. DALO release [in Danish] | CASR translation.