U.S. army has tested improved version of M270A1 MLRS rocket launcher with new armored cabin.

Posted: July 31, 2015 in Army M270A1 MLRS, MLRS, Rocket Launcher
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Over 100 artillery rockets were launched June 16 at White Sands Missile Range to test an improved version of the M270A1 Multiple Rocket Launch System. The test, conducted at WSMR’s G-16 impact area, saw an M270A1 MLRS vehicle equipped with a new armored cab fire 138 rockets to ensure the improvements didn’t negatively impact the vehicle’s mission performance.
Over 100 artillery rockets were launched June 16 at White Sands Missile Range to test an improved version of the M270A1 Multiple Rocket Launch System. The test, conducted at WSMR's G-16 impact area, saw an M270A1 MLRS vehicle equipped with a new armored cab fire 138 rockets to ensure the improvements didn't negatively impact the vehicle's mission performance. An improved M270A1 MLRS of U.S. Army kicks up clouds of dust while firing during a test on White Sands Missile Range.

The M270A1 is a tracked vehicle equipped with a missile and rocket launch rack capable of firing many different kinds of artillery rockets and missiles. This makes the vehicle a highly-capable weapons platform, able to perform many different artillery missions in support of many different Army and joint operations. With the original system adopted in 1983, and an improved version in 2001, the MLRS has proven itself in several different armed conflicts, including Operation Desert Shield and Storm, as well as more recently Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As armed conflict has evolved so have the requirements of systems like the MLRS, while it’s seen several upgrades to improve its ability to put rockets and missiles on target, recent conflicts have shown a need to improve the protection the vehicle provides its crew. The Improved Armored Cab project under the Precisions Fires Rockets and Missile Systems Project office is expected to meet this goal by proving the vehicle with an enhanced armor on the cab and improving related components, like the windows.

While the core system is already proven technology, the upgrades are new, and so the Army requires the vehicle to go through a rigorous series of tests to ensure the system is ready to go to the Soldiers who will use it. By taking the system to WSMR and conducting extensive firings, the test officers were able to evaluate the improvements and ensure the new cab would hold up under the stress of combat.

To conduct the test a larger launch area had to clear then is usually needed for MLRS missions on WSMR. Typically MLRS tests involve evaluating the rockets and missiles launched from the system, and WSMR has 16 launch complexes, already equipped with concrete vehicle pads and protective berms for MLRS testing. This test however required the launchers to move between shots, so an area had to be cleared that would allow for these maneuvers without risking damage to the environment.

Over 100 artillery rockets were launched June 16 at White Sands Missile Range to test an improved version of the M270A1 Multiple Rocket Launch System. The test, conducted at WSMR's G-16 impact area, saw an M270A1 MLRS vehicle equipped with a new armored cab fire 138 rockets to ensure the improvements didn't negatively impact the vehicle's mission performance. Staff Sgt. Tyler Roundtree reaches to adjust his dust mask from the command position of an M270A1 MLRS with improved armored cab during a test on White Sands Missile Range.

In the filed, Soldiers manning the MLRS system have to move after shooting as modern artillery radar systems can be used to identify where an artillery shell or rocket came from, allowing an opposing artillery unit to return fire. As a mobile and self-propelled system the MLRS can fire and move, getting clear of possible counter-battery fire. This firing and movement can put a lot of stress on the vehicle though, and so the test was needed to ensure the improved cab would hold up under theses conditions.

In addition to its extensive experience testing the MLRS family of weapons, WSMR also is a good operational test environment for other reasons. The widely varying temperature, rough terrain and dusty environment can put additional stress on systems undergoing testing like this, improving the realism of the test.

WSMR conducts MLRS testing around three to 10 times a year, testing guided and unguided rockets and missiles as well as the various launch platforms and supporting systems. These tests can range simple reliability testing, or more complex tests focusing on new systems, and capabilities.

Under current Army requirements, these improvements will bring the M270A1 in line with related systems like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a lighter weight rocket system related to the MLRS, but lighter and mounted on a newer armored medium truck.

By modernizing the MLRS, the system will be able to see continued use for the foreseeable future.

Over 100 artillery rockets were launched June 16 at White Sands Missile Range to test an improved version of the M270A1 Multiple Rocket Launch System. The test, conducted at WSMR's G-16 impact area, saw an M270A1 MLRS vehicle equipped with a new armored cab fire 138 rockets to ensure the improvements didn't negatively impact the vehicle's mission performance. The dusty environment of White Sands Missile Range can be harsh as seen from the dust clouds being kicked up by this MLRS during a test.
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