US Army’s extended-range guided rocket sees successful 80-kilometer test shot

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army’s new extended-range version of its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System had a successful 80-kilometer flight demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, on March 4, according to a Lockheed Martin announcement.

Lockheed Martin is the manufacturer for the GMLRS munition and has worked with the Army to double the rocket’s reach through extended-range capability development.

The first flight test for the extended-range GMLRS took place in November 2020, but the round “experienced an anomaly after launch,” Lockheed told Defense News in a March 5 statement. The company conducted a thorough investigation and determined the cause was “a technical issue with a fin.”

Lockheed incorporated “minor enhancements to mitigate recurrence,” and the successful flight test on March 4 showed those enhancements solved the issue, the company said. “Anomalies are a normal part of testing expanded capabilities before they are fielded to the warfighter,” Lockheed added.

The 80-kilometer shot fired from the Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System met the test objectives, Lockheed said in its news release.

“Our new Extended-Range GMLRS significantly increases the range of the current system, offering the choice of munitions for longer distances and improving options with the same reliability and accuracy our customers have come to expect,” Gaylia Campbell, vice president of precision fires and combat maneuver systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in the statement.

The release added that the demo “confirmed the missile’s flight trajectory performance, range and validated interfaces with the HIMARS launcher and system software performance.”

The Army has now completed two of the four engineering development test flights planned. The remaining flights are planned in the second quarter of the year, Lockheed confirmed to Defense News.

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The ultimate goal is to get the rocket to reach 150-plus kilometers. Following the engineering developments tests, the Army will conduct system qualification test flights and operational test flights.

Lockheed anticipates cutting the extended-range version into its production line in the fiscal 2023 contract award and is planning to produce the new extended-range rockets at its Camden, Arkansas, facility.

The company has produced more than 50,000 GMLRS rounds and is under contract to provide another 9,000 GMLRS Unitary and Alternative-Warhead rockets as well as over 1,800 low-cost, reduced-range practice rockets for both the U.S. Army and international customers.

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