GEAR & TECH

Watch Marines fire the rocket artillery that helped defeat ISIS

The M270 Multiple-Launch Rocket System is one of the most impressive pieces of gear in the U.S. military arsenal. It's made our list of possible Zords and it's become an awesome sniper, capable of whacking a target 44 miles away. But let's face it, the MLRS has a couple of drawbacks.


What drawbacks, you might wonder, could a weapon capable of putting 12 rockets, armed with either unitary warheads or submunitions, on a target possibly have? They've been called "grid square removal service" for how much area the cluster-munition variants can cover.

A U.S. Marine with Fox Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, directs the loading of 227mm rockets into the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System during training. Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Morrow.

There's just one problem with the MLRS: the weight.

The M270 comes in at 31 tons, according to MilitaryFactory.com, and it's bulky. It's not the most deployable asset by plane — you'd probably need a C-5 Galaxy or C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes to move it, both of which are in limited supply. They come in batteries of nine and you need to bring along reloads as well, meaning a light unit, like the 82nd Airborne Division, has to decide between massive firepower and deployability.

Oftentimes, the answer to this decision is the M142 HIMARS. It may have only half the firepower of the M270, but it's based on a medium truck. It comes in at 12 tons, making it deployable on C-130s.

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) vehicle is loaded into one of four C-130 aircraft from the 118th Airlift Wing June 4, 2011. (U.S. National Guard photo)

HIMARS can fire any rocket or missile that the MLRS can fire. This means it, too, is a sniper capable of knocking out a target 44 miles away with improved rockets, or it can send an ATACMS way downrange. Check out the video below to see a Marine Corps HIMARS going off in support of Steel Knight.