Defence & Security International Exhibition
Official News online with Editorial and Web TV
13 - 17 June 2016
Lockheed Martin at Eurosatory 2016
|Eurosatory 2016: Lockheed Martin’s HIMARS and ATACMS production alive again|
Stelios Kanavakis Senior DefenceAnalyst
Lockheed Martin has restarted the operation of the High Mobility Artillery System production line. Army Recognition was briefed on Precision Fires programmes by Frank St. John, LM’s Vice President of Tactical Missiles and Combat Manoeuvre Systems, during Eurosatory 2016 in Paris.
HIMARS’ production line had been closed for two years but it has reopened to fulfill orders that came from international customers. UAE the country, which ordered the system and essentially reopened the production line, was followed by Jordan and Singapore, which also procured the system. Qatar has received the necessary authorization from the US DoD and State Department but has not ordered it yet. The HIMARS production line would probably remain open for another 2-3 years.
Mr. Frank St. John also mentioned that the company has reopened the ATACMS production line to fulfill the orders placed by the US Army and international customers.
HIMARS has so far completed one million operational hours with 99% operational fleet readiness, in combat conditions, proving its reliability. Until now, Lockheed Martin has produced more than 3,400 ATACMS and over 25,000 GMLRS rockets.
Based on US Army plans, Lockheed Martin forecasts that HIMARS launchers will remain in service throughout 2050, having gone through upgrade programmes.Lockheed Martin expects that M270 users will adopt a similar strategy, upgrading it to the M270A1 variant, thus translating it into a market opportunity.
According to Mr. Frank St. John, the company sees a significant number of opportunities coming from the US and international customers. Therefore, its focus in the market segment will be in the upgrade of M270 systems; the production of HIMARS for existing or new customers and the upgrade of HIMARS to the next-generation level.
The upgrades offered for the M270A1 include an improved armoured cab and an upgraded fire control system. Existing users could potentially upgrade their available ammunition but for cost reasons, the procurement of new ones is considered more affordable.
For the M142 HIMARS the upgrades focus on an improved crew protection package; long-range communications and a blue-force tracker.
Furthermore, the Next-Generation HIMARS upgrade has been met with interest from the US Army and the USMC. The package includes an upgraded fire control system; increased range and lethality; air defence artillery and/or naval support capabilities, as well as the capability to operate autonomously.
Naval support is an essential characteristic, especially for the Asia-Pacific pivot. US forces operating defensively in littoral waters, would have an additional precision fires capability to supplement their combat capabilities. The first phase of the research programme, named Land-Based Anti-Ship Missile (LBASM) will continue until February 2017, when the US Army will present to the US Congress, its findings on the technical and financial requirements to renovate existing systems or procure new ones that would carry out coastal protection missions.
Lockheed Martin sees significant opportunities in the HIMARS ammunitions market as well. During the Eurosatory 2016 exhibition, the company announced a USD311.8 million contract to supply GMLRS Alternative Warheads, GMLRS Unitary rockets and Reduced-Range Practice Rockets to the US Army, the US Marine Corps, as well as to Jordan, Israel, Finland and Singapore through FMS.
GMLRS is a rocket that allows users to engage targets beyond the range of conventional weapons. GMLRS Alternative Warhead offers area target results without the effects of unexploded ordnance.
Mr. Frank St. John also mentioned the industrial opportunities presented to international customers. Lockheed Martin is flexible regarding industrial participation; the integration of subsystems or the integration of the launchers on a new platform.
Many countries use their own type of radios, C2 systems or produce their vehicles, which could be used as platforms. Being flexible and open to the integration of new systems, Lockheed Martin is thus in position to offer industrial participation to local industries.
The production of ammunition from a customer is also a possibility, albeit very challenging. It is a process that would require time and additional funds for the standardization, verification and testing of the production line, the materials that would be used and of the final product. For that reason, LM has subcontracted foreign companies to provide parts that are used in its production lines.
Regarding future plans for the extension of the rockets’ range, Mr. Frank St. John said that technically it is possible to extend it. Nevertheless, the extension comes together with an increase in the costs. Therefore, the commercial side of such a decision depends on what a customer wants and what he is ready to pay.
Mr. Frank St. John also commented on the Javelin fire test, using a Kongsberg M151 RWS on top of a Spartan vehicle. He said that the missiles were fired at a maximum range of 4.3 km under not “ideal” weather and visibility conditions, proving the weapon's performance. That range capability was known but they went through these tests to verify it and support the customers decisions.
Lockheed Martin is currently also developing the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile, which will replace the US Army inventory of Hellfire missiles. No information was released during the Eurosatory 2016 exhibition.
Apart from the US Army requirements, the weapon will also be marketed to cover the needs of international customers, as it would be easily integrated on platforms used by other customers.At the end of last May, a JAGM was fired from a Grey Eagle UAV against a truck moving with a speed of 20 mph. The missile hit the target successfully from a distance of slightly over eight kilometres. Future tests will prove the missile’s tri-mode seeker capability to engage targets at distances up to 18 km, which is the goal of the programme.