Lockheed wins $429 million in rocket launcher contracts

By Ethan Sterenfeld / May 2, 2022 at 11:37 AM

Lockheed Martin won more than $400 million in contracts April 29 to modernize and build two different rocket launchers, according to a Pentagon announcement.

The first award, worth $224 million, is a modification to an existing contract to upgrade M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to the A2 configuration, according to the announcement. Fiscal year 2022 U.S. Army and British foreign military sales funding will pay for the upgrades.

Lockheed will build new High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems under a separate fixed-price-incentive contract worth up to $205 million, of which $81 million was obligated at the time of the award, according to the announcement.

Work on the M270 contract is expected to finish on April 30, 2026, while the HIMARS contract has an estimated completion date of April 29, 2025, according to the announcement. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is the prime contractor for both systems.

Both launchers fire the Guided MLRS rocket and the Army Tactical Missile System. The M270 is an older, tracked vehicle, while the HIMARS is a wheeled vehicle, which can be carried by a C-130 cargo plane. HIMARS and the M270A2 will support the upcoming Precision Strike Missile, which fires farther than ATACMS and doubles the number of missiles per launch pod.

Production on the first M270A2 should finish in FY-22, the Army official in charge of the program told Inside Defense last year. The first A2 systems off the line will be upgrades of obsolete A0 vehicles that had been in storage.

Bringing these vehicles back into the Army fleet will allow the service to expand the field artillery battalions that use rocket launchers. Active-duty battalions will grow to 27 launchers, from their current 16.

Upgraded M270s will replace the currently fielded A1 systems, which will themselves be brought to the A2 standard. Funding for upgrades to A1 vehicles began with the FY-22 budget, according to Army budget documents.

Neither the A0 nor the A1 variants of the M270 have enough processing power to fire PrSM. A2 vehicles will support the new missile, and they will also receive improved armored cabs and greater mechanical commonality with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

New HIMARS will be the same model as previously fielded systems. The fire control system on the currently fielded HIMARS has enough processing power for PrSM.