Lockheed wins $33 million to begin British rocket launcher upgrades

By Ethan Sterenfeld / June 14, 2022 at 11:58 AM

Lockheed Martin will recapitalize and upgrade 15 British tracked rocket launchers, so they can fire new missiles that the U.S. Army is developing, under a $33 million contract that the Pentagon announced June 9.

British Multiple Launch Rocket Systems will be upgraded from the M270B1 variant to the M270A2 variant, according to Guy Yelverton, Lockheed's project manager for strategic and operational rockets and missiles in the U.S. Army.

The A2 variant brings a new, more powerful fire control system, which supports compatibility with the Precision Strike Missile and Extended-Range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Both missiles are expected to extend the range of the systems they replace when they are fielded, and PrSM doubles the number of missiles per launch pod compared to the incumbent Army Tactical Missile System.

The A1 variant that the U.S. Army currently uses, which shares its fire control system with the B1, cannot fire the new missiles.

Lockheed should complete the upgrades by May 2026, according to the Pentagon announcement. Fiscal year 2022 United Kingdom foreign military sales funding will pay for the contract.

Up to 44 M270s from the United Kingdom will be recapitalized and brought to the A2 standard, the British army announced last year. The army expects to field PrSM in 2024 and ER-GMLRS the following year.

An initial increment of PrSM will be fielded to the U.S. Army by the end of FY-23 under current plans, although full certification and the development of improved variants should last most of this decade.

Upgrades to the U.S. Army’s M270s will overlap with an expansion of the service’s rocket launcher fleet, as the service bulks up its long-range fires capabilities amid preparation for great power conflict. Battalions of the M270 or the wheeled High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which fires the same missiles, will grow from 16 to 27 launchers.