The United Kingdom will modernize nine of its M270 MLRS fleet to the A2 variant, as part of an ongoing recapitalization of the fleet, which could also be doubled in size current number of about 40 vehicles.
Prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine-Russia War following the February 24 invasion, such a development might not have attracted the attention it has today, with long-range artillery and guided munitions being perhaps considered the most dominant force on the battlefield.
The standard M270A2 will see a new engine installed and a refitted cabin, which will be configured much the same as the equally renowned M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers.
The MLRS launch unit comprises an M270 launcher loaded with 12 rockets, packed into two six-rocket pods. The launcher, which is mounted on an elongated Bradley frame, is a self-loading and self-aiming system.
Without leaving the closed cabin, the crew of three (driver, gunner and section leader) can fire up to 12 MLRS rockets in less than 60 seconds.
Maker Lockheed Martin , which has produced both launchers and corresponding ammunition, will assist the UK in the A2 upgrade process. The upgrades were announced earlier this year as part of a $32 million program, which is expected to be completed by 2026, although the exact number was not disclosed at the time.
A Lockheed Martin official, speaking to AUSA 2022 in Washington, DC, confirmed army technology that nine British M270 launch units would be upgraded to the A2 variant, although he declined to say whether the rest of the country’s fleet would also benefit from the process.
The UK is also known to be looking for ways to increase the size of its M270 fleet, and with no new vehicles being produced by Lockheed Martin, additional vehicles would have to be sought from current operators. The United States maintains a large stockpile of surplus unserviceable MLRS M270A0 launchers in its Red River Graveyard, which were also used by the United States Army. M270 Fleet Upgrade Program.
Global artillery systems on the rise
The global artillery systems market is expected to reach $6.8 billion in 2032, driven by rising military spending and ever more advanced platforms, according to recent analysis by GlobalData. The sector is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 2.7% over the next decade.
GlobalData’s new report, ‘Artillery Systems Market Size and Trend Analysis, Key Programs, Competitive Landscape and Forecast, 2022-2032‘, revealed that the main trends driving demand for these systems over the next decade will be modernization initiatives undertaken by military forces to replace their aging artillery systems with advanced ones.
Regional conflicts and uncertainty caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine are also factors for the growth of the sector, it was revealed.
Rithik Rao, associate aerospace and defense analyst at GlobalData, said, “Artillery systems are considered a relatively cost-effective option for meeting defense needs, due to their relative mobility and capability. produce high volumes of focused, sustained shots, with decent accuracy. Their usefulness in conflicts can be seen by their deployment in border areas between India and China and their use in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in 2020 and 2022.”
The effectiveness of artillery and long-range guided munitions in dominating Ukraine’s fields has solidified decisions in national procurement programs to invest heavily in such capabilities, which can serve both offensive and defensive purposes.
Integrating these systems with information gathered from various intelligence and surveillance platforms, sensors and satellites, shared through network-attached nodes, will increase the effectiveness and accuracy of these weapons. For example, the US military has developed the Joint Effects Targeting System, which relies on sensor technology to transmit more accurate targeting data to artillery command.
Similarly, the UK is upgrading its M270B1 MLRS variants to support an increased engagement range of up to 150 km.
Rao concludes, “Extended range capabilities and the incorporation of advanced fire control and precision guidance kits have improved accuracy to within 10 meters in all weather conditions. With the changing nature of warfare and the growing demand for precision weapons to support troops while minimizing collateral damage, artillery systems have become an ideal choice for land and naval forces.