|MGM-140 ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System)|
|Type||Rocket artillery and tactical ballistic missile|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Wars||Persian Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, Iraq War|
|Mass||3,690 pounds (1,670 kg)|
|Length||13 feet (4.0 m)|
|Diameter||24 inches (610 mm)|
|Maximum firing range||190 mi (300 km)|
|Wingspan||55 inches (1.4 m)|
|Flight ceiling||160,000 ft (50 km)|
|Maximum speed||In excess of Mach 3 (0.6 mi/s; 1.0 km/s)|
|GPS-aided inertial navigation guidance|
The MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) manufactured by the U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin. It has a range of up to 190 miles (310 km), with solid propellant, and is 13 feet (4.0 m) high and 24 inches (610 mm) in diameter.
The ATACMS can be fired from multiple rocket launchers, including the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). An ATACMS launch container has a lid patterned with six circles like a standard MLRS rocket lid.
The concept of a conventional tactical ballistic missile was made possible by the doctrinal shift of the late Cold War, which rejected the indispensability of an early nuclear strike on the Warsaw Pact forces in case of a war with it.
The AirLand Battle and Follow-on Forces Attack doctrines, which were emerging in late 1970s and early 1980s, necessitated a conventional-armed (and thus much more accurate) missile to strike enemy reserves, so the US Army Missile Command sponsored the Simplified Inertial Guidance Demonstrator (SIG-D) program. Within this program Ling-Temco-Vought developed a solid-fuel analog of MGM-52 Lance designated T-22, with a brand new RLG-based inertial guidance package which demonstrated unprecedented accuracy.
In 1978, DARPA started the Assault Breaker technology demonstration program to attack armor formations with many mobile hard targets at standoff ranges. It utilized the T-22 missile and also the Patriot-based Martin Marietta T-16 missile with cluster warheads.
Development of the missile now known as ATACMS started in 1980, when USAF decided to replace Lance with a similar nuclear (but also chemical or biological) tipped solid-fuel missile dubbed the Corps Support Weapon System (CSWS). Worried that two branches are developing too many similar missiles with different warheads, the Department of Defense united that program with Army's Assault Breaker in 1981, and with USAF's Conventional Standoff Weapon (CSW) in 1982-1983. The new missile system, designated JTACMS, soon ran into the aversion of the USAF to the idea of an air-launched ballistic missile, and as a result, in the next year the branch ended its participation in the non-cruise missile portion of the program, hence the modern designation.
In March 1986, the contract for the missile design was won by LTV. The system was assigned the MGM-140 designation. The first test launch came only two years later, thanks to earlier experience of the company with previous programs.
The first use of the ATACMS in a combat capability was during the Persian Gulf War's Operation Desert Storm, where a total of 32 were fired from the M270 MLRS. During the Iraq War's Operation Iraqi Freedom more than 450 missiles were fired. As of early 2015, over 560 ATACMS missiles had been fired in combat.
A Block II variant (initially designated MGM-140C or, previously, M39A3) was designed to carry a payload of 13 Brilliant Anti-Tank munitions manufactured by Northrop Grumman. However, in late 2003 the U.S. Army terminated the funding for the BAT-equipped ATACMS and therefore the MGM-164A never became fully operational.
Originally designated Block IA Unitary (MGM-140E), the new Block IVA variant substitutes a 500 pounds (230 kg) unitary HE warhead for M74 bomblets. It uses the same GPS/INS guidance as the MGM-140B. The development contract was placed in December 2000, and flight-testing began in April 2001. The first production contract was awarded in March 2002. The range has been increased to some 190 miles (300 km), limited more by the political considerations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) than technical considerations.
In 2007, the Army terminated the ATACMS program due to cost, ending the ability to replenish stocks. To sustain the remaining inventory, the ATACMS Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) was launched, which refurbishes or replaces propulsion and navigation systems, replaces cluster munition warheads with the unitary blast fragmentation warhead, and adds a proximity fuze option to obtain area effects; deliveries are projected to start in 2018. The ATACMS SLEP is a bridging initiative to provide time to complete analysis and development of a successor capability to the aging ATACMS stockpile, which could be ready around 2022.
In January 2015, Lockheed Martin received a contract to develop and test new hardware for Block I ATACMS missiles to eliminate the risk of unexploded ordnance by 2016. The first modernized Tactical Missile System (TACMS) was delivered on 28 September 2016 with updated guidance electronics and added capability to defeat area targets using a unitary warhead without leaving behind unexploded ordnance. Lockheed was awarded a production contract for launch assemblies as part of the SLEP on 2 August 2017.
In October 2016, it was revealed that the ATACMS would be upgraded with an existing seeker to enable it to strike moving targets on land and at sea, but that plan was terminated in December 2020 to pursue other missile efforts.
In March 2016, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon announced they would offer a missile to meet the U.S. Army's Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) requirement to replace the ATACMS. The missile will use advanced propulsion to fly faster and farther (originally out to 310 miles (500 km)) while also being thinner and sleeker, increasing loadout to two per pod, doubling the number able to be carried by M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS launchers. Lockheed and Raytheon will test-fire their submissions for the renamed Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program in 2019, with the selected weapon planned to achieve Initial Operational Capability in 2023; the initial PrSM will only be able to hit stationary targets on land, but later versions will track moving targets on land and sea. With the United States withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the range of the PrSM will be increased beyond the '499 km' limitation previously placed upon it by the treaty.
After entering service in 2023, the Spiral One upgrade will incorporate a multi-mode seeker in 2025 with the ability to home in on radio-frequency emissions from land and ship radars and an infrared imaging mode to strike precise points. Spiral Two will focus on enhanced lethality and Spiral Three will increase missile range to 700–800 km (430–500 mi).
In July 2021, the US announced that Australia had become a partner in the PrSM Program with the Australian Army signing a Memorandum of Understanding for Increment 2 of the program with the US Army’s Defense Exports and Cooperation and had contributed US$54 million.
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