Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Artillery Weapons - The Army Tactical Missile System - ATACMS

While launching seemingly endless volleys streaking up into the sky, the M270 MLRS mobile rocket launchers unload firepower unto the enemy. Many different types of missiles could be chosen to be launched by the MLRS, from rockets that rain shrapnel on areas the size of several football fields to GPS-guided rockets that can deliver a 500 pound warhead to any target. Likewise, defense contractors like Lockheed Martin will always be taking orders for more of these missiles and even upgrades for the system as often as they can. One of the most recent creations delivered by Lockheed Martin are the different blocks of the US Army’s Tactical Missile System (ATACMS, pronounched “attack - ‘ems”). There have been two different blocks developed so far, with block I designed to deliver 950 M74 submunitions to blanket an area, and block II to deliver a 500 lb warhead. The block II variety has been enhanced to strike targets from a verticle descent path, enhancing mountainous warfare capabilities and bunker-busting. This system is an extremely flexible and devastating combination of mobility and firepower, and one of the longest range, most accurate, widely deployed, and technologically advanced rocket artillery system in the world. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the US Army fired 420 MLRS rockets in the opening salvos of the war, hitting targets as far away as 120 km. This weapon is literally the 500 pound gorilla of the wide open battlespace of the Middle Eastern deserts. With firepower like this fielded and ready to roll, its truly a wonder that anyone would challenge it, especially from a distance.

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