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The US Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a not-to-exceed USD 4.79 Bn (EUR 4.34 Bn) contract to manufacture two full-rate production lots of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rounds and associated equipment, the company announced on 27 April 2023.

The contract calls for the production of GMLRS Unitary and Alternative Warhead (AW) rockets and integrated logistics support for the US Army and international partners.

“We are working closely with our army customer and supply chain partners, who are moving with unprecedented speed, to ramp production capacity, supporting the urgent need for this highly reliable, combat-proven rocket,” Jay Price, vice president of Precision Fires for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, was quoted as saying in a company press release.

GMLRS is an all-weather rocket designed for fast deployment that delivers precision strike beyond the reach of most conventional weapons. The munition is the primary round for the Lockheed Martin-produced MLRS and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) family of launchers and features a Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided inertial guidance package and small manoeuvring canards on the rocket nose that add manoeuvrability and enhance the system’s accuracy.

“We’re seeing an increase in demand for this versatile rocket because GMLRS provides strategic advantage, unmatched accuracy and it’s cost-effective,” said Price. “It’s the right round for many missions.”

US Marines loading an M142 HIMARS on a range in California during training in April 2017. The war in Ukraine has led to both a high direct and indirect demand for GMLRS rounds. (Photo: USMC)

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 the US government provided 20 HIMARS systems to Ukraine and in September 2022 announced it would be sending 18 more systems.

The US, UK, France, Germany and Italy have also provided Ukraine with MLRS. Such systems have offset the initial Russian advantage in the artillery battle in Ukraine, but Ukraine will need a significant amount of ammunition stocks if it is to go on the offensive.

Work on the latest GMLRS contract will be performed at the Lockheed Martin facilities in Camden, Arkansas; Dallas and Lufkin, Texas; Archbald, Pennsylvania; and Orlando, Florida, and will be completed in 2026.

Peter Felstead