08/01/2015 - by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International Reporter
Lockheed Martin has been tasked with upgrading the United States Army's Tactical Missile System to ensure elements of it can't explode post-strike. The US aerospace/defence contractor will work on eliminating the chance of unexploded ordnance being left over once a target has been hit: a potential danger to allied forces in the area and, similarly, localised civilian populations.
Lockheed Martin will both develop and test new hardware for the missile - this set to go into production from 2016 onwards.
The Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS) surface-to-surface weapon has been produced in several variants. The initial MGM-140A-Block 1 has since given way to the MGM-140B-Block 1A and latest MGM-168 ATacMS-Block IVA model. This latest version began flight testing in spring 2001, went into production the following year and, equipped with a 230 kg warhead, has a 300+ kilometre range.
Tactical Missile System
According to Lockheed Martin, as a tactical long-range surface-to-surface precision strike platform, ATacMS is comparable to nothing else in current US Army service. Since having made its operational debut, the Tactical Missile System has subsequently been launched close to 600 times - the system having shown ‘extremely high rates of accuracy and reliability' on every occasion.
Besides the United States, other current or future ATacMS operators comprise Bahrain, Greece, the Republic of China, South Korea, Turkey and the UAE.
Fully compatible with the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) launchers range, each ATacMS consists of hundreds of sub-munitions. To date, some 3,700 have left Lockheed Martin's facilities - with the firm's Texas and Arkansas plants set to carry out the Tactical Missile System upgrade work now required.
"ATacMS is extremely reliable and effective, and has proven itself over and over again in combat", explains Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control's Tactical Missiles vice president, Ken Musculus. "These upgrades ensure ATacMS is ready to meet our customers' needs now and in the future."