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Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall to develop GMARS European rocket launcher.

| 2023

Paris, France, June 28, 2023 - An official representative from Lockheed Martin revealed to Defense News that Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall have formed a partnership to develop the GMARS, a European rocket launcher built upon Lockheed's High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). The primary objective of this collaborative effort is to offer a contemporary alternative to Germany's outdated MARS 2 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System). 
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Artist drawing of the future European project of GMARS European rocket launcher. (Picture source Lockheed Martin)

In an interview with Defense News at the Paris Air Show, Howard Bromberg, Vice President and Deputy for Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin's air and missile defense business line, emphasized the increasing demand for new rocket artillery in Europe due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Discussions are underway among various nations to address their rocket artillery requirements.

Germany has been in talks with Rheinmetall and Lockheed Martin to find a replacement for its MARS 2 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) systems, some of which were donated to Ukraine, while the rest are aging. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two companies in April to explore collaboration opportunities.

GMARS, the proposed system, would incorporate a Rheinmetall chassis and a Lockheed Martin loader component. It would resemble the HIMARS platform but with a larger chassis and a double loadout capability of two rocket pods. The Rheinmetall chassis, based on the HX 8x8 vehicle, will be manufactured in Vienna.

The HX 8x8 chassis, developed by Rheinmetall, is a key component of the technical specifications of the GMARS, as the Army Recognition Editorial Team previously reported it in an article published on June 2, 2021. Measuring approximately 12 meters in length, this chassis provides a robust and versatile platform for the rocket launcher system. It features advanced engineering and design elements that enable it to withstand challenging operational environments. The HX 8x8 chassis offers exceptional load-carrying capacity, allowing for the integration of various mission-specific modules and equipment. With its proven track record and extensive operational experience, the HX 8x8 chassis demonstrates its reliability and adaptability, making it an ideal choice for the GMARS rocket launcher system.

The HX 8X8 chassis introduces a completely overhauled cab design that prioritizes ease of operation and crew protection. Various assistance systems have been integrated to enhance safety during routine operations. The electronic and electrical architecture, along with assistance systems such as Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW), ensure the vehicle's viability for autonomous driving. Standardized interfaces enable the integration of future technologies like truck platooning and other automated applications. Additionally, the HX chassis can be equipped with an optional active rear axle suspension system, further enhancing its on-road and off-road performance.

The new HX chassis offers a versatile platform suitable for both logistic and tactical scenarios. It will be available in various versions, including 4x4, 6x6, 8x8, and 10x10, providing a wider range of variants and system diversity. The GMARS system, if supported by Germany, would achieve approximately 80 percent commonality with HIMARS in terms of munitions packages and logistics, enabling effective interoperability. The system is designed to be operated by a three-person crew. Upon contract signing, the initial batch of five GMARS systems could be delivered for testing and acceptance as early as 2025. Germany also has the option to request the purchase of HIMARS systems from the U.S. government as a stopgap measure.

The collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall holds promise for European nations seeking advanced rocket artillery systems. HIMARS, with its C-130 transportability and adaptability to small roads and bridges with weight restrictions, could cater to specific requirements. The GMARS system's double rocket load capability could be particularly appealing to certain nations. The choice between the two systems depends on individual countries' threat perceptions and operational preferences. The partnership between Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall signifies a step forward in addressing Europe's rocket artillery needs, providing a modernized and European-produced solution.

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