How US Rocket Artillery Will Give Ukraine a Decisive Advantage Against Russia

The M270 MLRS and HIMARS rocket artillery could be game-changers in Ukraine's war with Russia.
artillery

Artillery has traditionally been one of the weapons that have provoked panic in enemy forces.

And Ukraine is now using state-of-the-art artillery delivered a few weeks ago by the United States: the M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) and the M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System).

They will help Ukrainian forces to halt the progress of Russian troops coming from the east to seize the Donbas region – the pro-Russian territory where the fighting is currently taking place.

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Rocket artillery gives huge firepower at long distances

MLRS Live Fire Exercise In Estonia
MLRS Live Fire Exercise In Estonia by Christian Cote. Public Domain.

The United States has successfully concluded the delivery of M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS long-range tactical missile systems to Ukraine.

This significantly broadens the capabilities of the Ukrainian military – and even the territory of Russia now falls within the destruction zone of these missile platforms.

Today, these are the longest-range weapon the Ukrainian defense forces have ever had. They are designed to inflict devastating strikes from hundreds of miles away, which would allow Ukrainian troops to attack at longer distances without exposing themselves to enemy fire.

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With this advanced rocket artillery, they will be able to launch simultaneous missile attacks and inflict many more casualties on the enemy troops over great distances, striking fear in Russian troops.

M270 MLRS

M270 MLRS missiles
MLRS missiles by Jaewoo Oh. Public Domain.

Since the first M270s were delivered to the U.S. Army in 1983, multiple NATO member countries adopted the MLRS, making it one of the essential parts of their armies.

The strength of this artillery piece is that it can hit long-range targets creating massive destruction instantly with its rockets.

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Some 1,300 M270 MLRS systems have been produced in the United States and Europe, including more than 700,000 rockets. It was used in the Persian Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, and Iraq War.

M270 MLRS specs

Falcon's First MLRS Live Fire
Falcon’s First MLRS Live Fire by Joseph Bush. Public Domain.
  • Type: Multiple rocket launcher
  • Status: In service since 1983
  • Produced: 1980–2003
  • Variants: M270A1 / M270B1
  • Mass: 25,000 kilograms (55,100 pounds)
  • Length: 6.85 meters (22 feet 6 inches)
  • Width: 2.97 meters (9 feet 9 inches)
  • Height: 2.59 meters (8 feet 6 inches)
  • Crew: 3
  • Caliber: 227 millimeters (8.9 inches)
  • Maximum firing range: with ATACMS: 165 or 300 kilometers (103 or 186 miles) / with precision strike missiles: 500 kilometers (310 miles)
  • Operational range: 480 kilometers (298 miles)
  • Maximum speed: 64 km/h (39.8 mph)

M142 HIMARS

ASD/FS21-HIMARS
ASD/FS21-HIMARS by Nicholas Guevara. Public Domain.

HIMARS is a truck-mounted light multiple missile launcher system developed in the United States and field-tested in 1998. It became operational in 2005.

The M270s demonstrated their effectiveness in the 1991 Gulf War but were challenging to maintain, re-supply, and reposition to the battlefields. For this reason, the HIMARS became a lightweight and rapidly deployable alternative.

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The HIMARS, like the M270 MLRS, is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, and it has been successfully deployed in War in Afghanistan, Syrian Civil War, and Iraqi Civil War.

However, the HIMARS isn’t simple to operate. Even conventional use of the HIMARS poses a challenge for Ukraine as the HIMARS requires Ukrainian crews to master the functioning and proper maintenance of new systems.

As an illustration, a typical U.S. Marine Corps training course for HIMARS takes 13 days. But, reports suggest that Ukrainians have been undergoing training to run the HIMARS for weeks while the handover was being arranged.

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M142 HIMARS specs 

HIMARS Exercise
HIMARS Exercise by Kyle Burks. Public Domain
  • Type: Rocket artillery
  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control
  • Unit cost: $5.1 million to $5.6 million
  • No. built: 414
  • Mass: 16,250 kilograms (35,800 pounds)
  • Length: 7 meters (23 feet)
  • Width: 2.4 meters (7 feet 10.5 inches)
  • Height: 3.2 meters (10 feet 6 inches)
  • Crew: 3
  • Caliber: 227 millimeters (8.9 inches)
  • Effective firing range: 2–300 kilometers (1.24–186 miles)
  • Maximum firing range: 300 kilometers (186 miles) for MGM-140 ATACMS / 500 kilometers (310 miles) for Precision Strike Missile
  • Operational range: 480 kilometers (298 miles)
  • Maximum speed: 85 km/h (52.8 mph)

The firepower that artillery provides is devastating

Using the M270 MLRS and the HIMARS, the Ukrainian troops will certainly inflict a lot of damage on the Russian army. They would even have the capability to fire on Russian territory if Ukraine decides to go on the offensive at some point in the war.

So, this newly acquired Ukrainian firepower will take the war to a new level, and they will balance a bit the strength of both armies.


Featured image credit: 210th Field Artillery Brigade by Sgt. Michelle Blesam

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