The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) was fired from the flight deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage on 22 October, in a demonstration of the system’s seafaring capabilities. The HIMARS is a weapons system made up of the M142, five-ton chassis vehicle and can carry either a launcher pod of six rockets or one MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which enables U.S. Marines to engage targets just minutes after firing. It also features an advanced targeting system that gives Marines precision-strike ability and high accuracy. Also, the system carries a greater range than does traditional artillery, so smaller units can cover larger areas. Pentagon officials said the demonstration on Anchorage consisted of HIMARS engaging a land-based target with a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U). “We had two training objectives for today’s shoot,” said Army Maj. Adam Ropelewski, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), lead planner for sea-based expeditionary fires. “The first training objective was demonstrating this capability, and second, we wanted to have good effects on the target. We achieved both objectives. We destroyed the target at 70 kilometers while at sea.” One of the Pentagon’s objectives is to develop a capability to strike an enemy from the sea, without putting warships in danger or in range of enemy counter-batteries. “In an environment where we are operating in contested waters, we are finding a way to be able to support the land force with deeper strike capabilities,” said Capt. AJ Kowaleuski, an artillery officer with I MEF. In addition to the six 277mm rocket payload, the system can also fire a single larger short-range ballistic missile, known as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which has a range of 190 miles.
Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.