The Army bought nearly $5 billion worth of rockets

Miguel Ortiz
May 1, 2023 11:15 AM PDT
2 minute read

Program Executive Office Missiles and Space photo.


Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, America and its allies began drawing from their own military stockpiles…

Following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, America and its allies began drawing from their own military stockpiles to aid Kyiv in its defense. At the same time, governments fearing an escalated conflict with Russia increased military spending and procurement. To replenish its stockpiles and provide more aid to allies, the U.S. Army awarded a Not-to-Exceed $4.79 billion contract to Lockheed Martin for HIMARS and other rockets and associated equipment to be completed by 2026.

The M270 MLRS is based on the chassis of the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle (U.S. Army)

The enormous contract calls for the production of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System rockets, specifically the Unitary and Alternative Warhead rockets, as well as integrated logistics support for the Army and international partners. In 2019, the Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.3 billion contract for the production of over 9,500 Unitary and AW rockets, more than 300 Low-Cost Reduced-Range Practice rockets and logistics support. The 2023 contract represents an exponential acquisitions increase for the Army.

The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System can fire both MLRS and GMLRS rounds (U.S. Air Force)

To meet the increased demand for rockets by the U.S. and allied nations, Lockheed Martin is kicking production into high gear. "We are working closely with our Army customer and supply chain partners, who are moving with unprecedented speed, to ramp production capacity supporting the urgent need for this highly-reliable, combat-proven rocket," said Jay Price, vice president of Precision Fires for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in a company press release. "We’re seeing an increase in demand for this versatile rocket because GMLRS provides strategic advantage, unmatched accuracy and it’s cost-effective. It's the right round for many missions."

A HIMARS fires a GMLRS rocket (Lockheed Martin)

Introduced in 2006, the GMLRS is an updated version of the unguided Multiple Launch Rocket System. An accelerated development, driven by the need for precision fires in Iraq, saw the first Unitary round completed in March 2006. Using GPS, the GMLRS can hit targets with high precision, reducing collateral damage and wasted munitions. It is also capable of firing in a proximity airburst mode against soft targets in the open.

Ukrainian soldiers train on the MLRS in the UK (MOD)

At the onset of the 2022 Russian invasion, the U.S. initially denied Kyiv's requests for MLRS rockets for fear of Ukraine launching attacks into Russia. However, on May 31, 2022, the U.S. announced that it would provided the GMLRS-capable M142 HIMARS rocket launchers to Ukraine. Since then, the UK and Germany have also sent their own MLRS launchers to Ukraine.


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