Precision fires can be employed with all types of support weapons,
including artillery rockets and missiles. When rapid and decisive
response is required, Guided
MLRS (G-MLRS) or even Army
Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) are called for action.
According to a Lockheed Martin briefing at AUSA 2006, over 100
G-MLRS rockets were fired in Iraq, in support of urban combat
Current artillery assets employed by the army and USMC are
based on 'statistical' weapons, which require massive, widely
dispersed fire to achieve a desired effect on the target. To
compensate for the statistical error, dual purpose, improved
conventional munitions (DPICM) grenades (designated M42/M46)
are dispersed from the weapon (cargo projectile) to saturate
the target area. While such weapons were widely used throughout
all recent conflicts, since 1982, DPICM demonstrated a high
failure rate, leaving many unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the
field. Current efforts are underway to use "cleaner"
weapons, reducing the long term post-war effects and minimizing
UXO hazard to non combatants.
solution is to replace the cargo projectile or warhead (in rockets)
with a unitary warhead. This concept is pursued with Enhanced
Blast Warhead (EBW), developed for the Guided MLRS system; EBW
demonstrated an area effect yielding 70-80% of the DPICM effect,
without the hazards of unexploded duds. EBW also has devastating,
localized effects inside buildings.
Another approach calls for the improvement of the DPICM grenades,
utilizing fail-safe fusing systems. ATK and IMI teamed to produce
the XM242 fuses replacing the M223 fuses in existing M42/M46
grenades forming current DPICM ammunition. According to Israeli
sources The IDF used cluster munitions of different types, mostly
of US origin. Only part of these munitions were equipped with
locally produced (IMI)
self-destruct fuzes. Use of these advanced fuses could have
contributed to a "cleaner" battlefield after the end
of the recent hostilities, preventing the risk to explosive
ordnance teams, as well as to civilian lives and properties
currently experienced in the former combat area.
different weapon pursuing the "clean battlefield"
initiative is the Clean
Lightweight Area Weapon (CLAW) introduced by Textron Systems.
Designed to accomplish the Anti-Personnel / Anti-Material (APAM)
mission, a single 64 lb CLAW munition has the footprint and
effectiveness of a 1000 lb (0.453 ton) legacy cluster bomb but
without the risk of UXO. Each CLAW is designed for activation
in a vertical position, oriented and stabilized by a parachute
and activated at a preset height over the ground by proximity
sensor. Utilizing Insensitive Munition (IM) explosive material,
zirconium rings for enhanced incendiary effect and fragmentation
assembly, CLAW maximizes the effect against dispersed unprotected
personnel, material vehicles or storage areas.
High precision attack from extended range is also the domain
of ATACMS, which was also used in during Operation Iraqi Freedom
(OIF). ATACMS also started as an area saturation weapon but
with improved guidance transformed into precision attack weapon.
Between Operation Desert Storm (1991) and OIF the missile's
warhead was reduced, trading off some DPICM capacity for navigation
and guidance hardware, enabling extended range and improved
precision. During and after OIF, some 450 ATACMS were fired
in Iraq, primarily against air defense and infrastructure sites.
Missiles are fired from M-270A1 MLRS and HIMARS launchers. Since
the missile can be launched from hundreds of kilometers away,
it retains an element of surprise, maximizing the effect on
target with a massive, localized strike.
Martin is currently producing Block 1A missiles to replenish
depleted stocks, under a US$47 million order by the U.S. Army.
One of the unique characteristics of the missile is its steep
attack angle, resulting in a wide area fragmentation pattern,
compared to standard rockets which follow ballistic trajectory
and have non-optimized oblique terminal approach. A new version
is a currently developed for deep penetration attacks, targeting
deeply buried command posts and WMD facilities.
To improve the precision effect of tube artillery, ATK is
offering a simple but effective upgrade to the artillery munitions,
introducing a Precision Guidance Kit (PGK) embedded into the
fuse assembly of conventional projectiles. The kit uses a fixed
canard design, which does not require complex activation or
deployment of actuation. ATK claims the new guidance system
will be able to reduce the calculated error point (CEP) below
20 meters (x10 time's advantage over unguided artillery). The
system will enable existing artillery to be used effectively
against point targets, utilizing unitary warheads, rather then
Recent improvements made to mortar systems improved their
accuracy and rapid response, thus becoming an effective weapon
for modern asymmetric warfare. Operated at battalion level,
81 and 120mm mortars provide close fire support for troops,
deploying smoke screens, illumination and precise lethal effects,
utilizing computerized ballistic calculation for aiming and
targeting. Soltam and Honywell have both displayed advanced
mortar system improvements. With hundreds already supplied to
the U.S. Army Stryker Brigade Teams, Soltam is now offering
these capabilities to light and air-mobile users and Special
Forces. The company demonstrated a new concept of a lightweight
mounted on a trailer towed by a HMMWV. The system weighs 4,400pounds
(2,000 kg) and can be airlifted by small transport aircraft
and helicopters. It can accommodate 81mm or 120mm barrels, replaceable
at field level. Honeywell displayed the computer control and
navigation system employed with the 120mm mortars, utilizing
the Talon Inertial Navigation System.