The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a U.S. light multiple rocket launcher mounted on a truck.
HIMARS carries six rockets or one Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile on the U.S. Army's new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) five-ton truck, and can launch the entire M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) family of munitions. HIMARS is interchangeable with the MLRS M270A1, carrying half the rocket load.
The vehicle is C-130 transportable and produced by BAE Systems Mobility & Protection Systems (formerly Armor Holdings Aerospace and Defense Group Tactical Vehicle Systems Division), the OEM of the FMTV. The rocket system is produced by Lockheed Martin.
In 2002, the United States Marine Corps arranged with the United States Army to acquire 40 of the systems. Fielding began in 2005. In July 2007, Marines from Fox Battery 2nd Battalion 14 Marines were deployed to the Al Anbar province of Iraq. This is the first Marine unit to use the HIMARS in combat.
As of September 2007, the Singapore Army proposed to acquire HIMARS systems. The package includes 18 HIMARS launchers, 9 FMTV 5-Ton Trucks and XM31 unitary HE GMLRS pods, plus associated support and communications equipment and services. This proposed package is notable for not involving the M-26 or other unguided MLRS rockets. Singapore has likely created the first fully precision-guided MLRS force in existence.
In late 2009, Singapore took delivery of the first HIMARS firing unit and is slated to achieve Full Operational Capability within a year. It marks the first fully GPS-guided HIMARS unit.
HIMARS was also tested as a common launcher for both artillery rockets and the surface launched variant of the AMRAAM anti-aircraft missile.
The HIMARS was intended for use as a way to provide Special Forces units with mobile artillery support.
On February 14, 2010, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan indicated in a press release that it was thought that two rockets fired from a HIMARS unit fell 300 metres short of their intended target and killed 12 civilians during Operation Moshtarak. ISAF suspended the use of the HIMARS until a full review of the incident was completed. A British officer later said that the rockets were on target, that the target was in use by the Taliban, and use of the system has been reinstated. Reports indicate that the civilian deaths were due to the Taliban's use of an occupied dwelling, the presence of civilians at that location was not known to the ISAF forces. An October 21, 2010 report in the New York Times credited HIMARS with aiding the NATO offensive in Kandahar by targeting Taliban commanders' hideouts, forcing many to flee to Pakistan, at least temporarily.
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