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Fleece’s Faves – MLRS edition

April 17, 2011

Yeah, thats pretty freaking sweet!

“Steel Rain” and “Grid Square Remover”.  These really cool nicknames are bestowed upon the MLRS, which in a rarity for military acronyms, doesn’t try to spell a word and basically says exactly what it is, a Multiple Launch Rocket System.  The MLRS serves a variety of missions for the US military (and numerous other countries), but before we get into the purpose of this beast, lets look at her heritage.


Rocket artillery is an old military concept, but rather young in its perfected implementation.  The first attempt at a multiple launch rocket system would be attributable to the Koreans, way back in 1409, with their Hwacha.  This was basically a cart with 100-200 cylinders stacked on top.  Inside the cylinders were gunpowder propelled missiles (basically arrows) which could be fired out to 500 meters.  Pretty freaking cool for 600 years ago.  The biggest problem was accuracy, but back in the day, peeps were all about massed formations of troops charging against each other, so accuracy was not such a big issue.

Jump ahead 400 years, and we see a much modified version of rocket artillery being employed by the Mysore during the 4th Anglo-Mysore war, the Anglos being Britain.  Accuracy was not improved, but range was doubled to over a kilometer by using a lead based combustion chamber as opposed to the paper used by the Koreans.  The British won that “war” and took as some of the spoils, many of the rocket designs used by the Mysore.

Which leads us to the Congreve Rocket.  Named after Sir William Congreve who took the Mysore design and improved it greatly.  His rockets had a range of up to two miles and actually contained an explosive warhead, though they often exploded prematurely.  The Congreve rocket was definitely not a multiple launch rocket system, the system used to fire them only having the capacity to launch 2 rockets.  But it was still quite an improvement, though it was practically relegated to a “terror weapon” because of its inaccuracy and unreliability.  Many of my American readers are intimately familiar with the Congreve Rocket, we mention them every time we sing the Star Spangled Banner.  That’s right, “the rockets red glare” refers to the British use of the Congreve during the bombardment of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812.

Okay, lets skip a little history and go straight to World War II.  This war would serve as the first true implementation of rocket artillery in a modern sense.  All of the major nations fielded some form of rocket artillery, but the most notable designs were the Russian Katyusha and the German Nebelwerfer designs.  Accuracy was still a problem, but range was greatly improved by this time, up to about 8 km in the longest range designs.  These were effective weapons, able to saturate a target area with tons of explosives in a matter of seconds, something that would take multiple tubes (traditional gun artillery) minutes to accomplish.  But the true value of rocket artillery was its mobile nature.  Because rockets are recoilless, because the blast from the launch goes out the back of the tube, there is no need for the launching platform to be secured to the ground, hence a rocket artillery crew can set-up, fire, and “tear down” their firing site in as little as a minute, compared to the half hour it might take a gun crew.  This was perfect to defend against what is called counter-battery artillery fire, basically an artillery mission to destroy enemy guns that just fired at friendly units.  This quick-fire and move methodology has been nicknamed “shoot and scoot”.

Steel Rain

The current MLRS is the grandchild of the designs used in World War II, but it is so improved the semblance is only superficial.  First off, the MLRS is based on a stretched Bradley chassis, giving the vehicle component a highly mobile base.  Additionally, crew protection is adequate for a “behind the lines” mission as artillery usually is.

The firing platform is composed of 6 rockets in a pod held on the back of the unit.  An additional pod is carried and can be loaded in place within minutes, by as little as one crew member.  That gives a single MLRS the capability of firing 12 rockets, and what a rocket it is.

To quote

The basic MLRS tactical rocket warhead contains 644 M77 munitions, which are dispensed above the target in mid-air. The dual-purpose bomblets are armed during freefall and a simple drag ribbon orients the bomblets for impact. Each MLRS launcher can deliver almost 8,000 munitions in less than 60 seconds at ranges exceeding 32km.

The M77 munition is a DPICM, or Dual-Purposed Improved Conventional Munition, an anti-materiel and anti-personnel round combined in one.  Against armored targets, a single M77 can penetrate up to 4 inches of steel, against troops, the round has a fragmentation radius of 4 meters.

Re-read that quote above.  8000 of those things falling out of the sky in under a minute!  Now you understand the nickname “Steel Rain”.  When I was in the Army, we called the MLRS a “grid square remover” because a single unit could basically destroy everything within a square kilometer.  This is a deadly piece of military hardware.  But is still suffers from one problem, accuracy.

Rockets by their nature are unguided weapons.  They are targeted very accurately before launch for sure, we don’t just fire them willy-nilly, but never would you use a single rocket from an MLRS to hit a small command bunker, the chance of missing is too great.

Enter the ATACMS

Notice how big the ATACMS missile is to a 6-pack rocket pod?

ATACMS stands for Advanced TACtical Missile System, “missile” is the operative word.  In military terminology, a missile is a guided rocket (well its any guided self-powered munition, but usually a rocket).  The ATACMS missile is one of the most incredible pieces of technology our military has ever built.

Depending on the warhead used, the Block 1a missile has a range of up to 186 miles and can hit a single target within 10-50 meters  Circular Error Probability.  It accomplishes this through both on-board inertial navigation and a Global Positioning Satellite receiver.  It also receives in-flight updates through its GPS.  Oh, the warhead is 350 lbs. too.

The only negative of the ATACMS, the missile is much larger than the rockets used on the standard MLRS, thus only 2 missiles can be fired instead of the 12 rockets.  Seems a pretty fair trade to me don’t you think?


The “grid square remover” is an awesome piece of equipment, in the literal sense of the word.  Watching this puppy fire, or seeing its results, inspires awe in the coolest of hombres.  The rapid deployment capabilities of this weapon system provides the tactical commander with a quick response, deadly result, artillery asset no military of the past could dream of.  There really is nothing bad you can say about this weapon, unless you are the unfortunate shmuck on the receiving end.

On to the links!

He has given me a ton of love this week, linking a total of 4 of my posts in the last seven days.  Such love can not go unrequited.  Please go visit Matt’s excellent blog Conservative Hideout -Obama’s budget speech mentions the death panel? or checkout this most excellent piece on the criminal nature (not in abortion but in sex crimes) of Planned Parenthood titled Fun with Rhetoric: Planned Parenthood revisited

Always on Watch – offers us some weekend tax humor

American and Proud – awesome video in “Students for taxing the rich..But NOT themselves”

Meteorologists are calling for some "Steel Rain" tonight

America’s Watchtower – great history lesson here – This day in history: President Lincoln shot

Be Sure You’re RIGHT, then go ahead – another great history lesson – The progressive income tax

Blog de KingShamus – amazingly written quasi-movie review – I think KS could write about anything and make it interesting, oh and some Rule 5 to boot!

Bread upon the waters – Were you there? Johnny Cash and the Carter Family

Bunkerville – Blacks and Hispanics support for Obama slipping

Capitol Commentary – On turning 40

An ATACMS missile being fired

Conservatives on Fire – The “People’s Budget” by the Congressional Progressive Caucus

Disrupt the Narrative – Castrati watch – odd title, interesting post and video

Mind-Numbed Robot – From the mailbag…

Motorcity Times – Note from Thaddeus: Big government does not stop chaos – Big government is chaos

NoOneofAnyImport – Feeling toyed with

Planet Moron – The 2012 Federal budget glossary

Political Realities – President Obama’s signing statement ignores czars agreement in budget deal

Proof Positive – “Winning the Future” redux

Questioning with Boldness – Video: Dr. Jasser discusses the Muslim Brotherhood on the Glenn Beck show

Republican Redefined – Open mic night: Obama caught in honest moment “Do they think we’re stupid?”

rjjrdq’s America – Obama to ignore parts of budget plan

Sentry Journal – It might take a life changing event for Americans to wake up

Edge of the Sandbox– How many undies for a Cosmonaut?

A rocket being fired

Spellchek – awesome video featuring the A-10 Warthog, “Born to be Wasted”

The Swash – great piece here about the morals of the movie Wall Street, must read!

Thatmrgguy’s blog – Labor and Obama not so cozy now

The Daley Gator – go and check out a whole collection of videos of the great Milton Friedman

22 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2011 12:20 pm

    Thanks for the link. Awesome pictures and article about the MLRS.


  2. April 17, 2011 1:15 pm

    Thanks Colin. I could see the grid square remover as a solution to all of the abandoned neighborhoods in Detroit. Heck, it would even take out the rats!

  3. April 17, 2011 1:53 pm

    Thanks my friend. Our men and women in uniform deserve the best equipment and it sure looks like they have it.

    • April 17, 2011 8:45 pm

      Yep, unless the People’s Budget ever becomes a reality. Then we will be lucky to get Chinese equipment. =(

  4. April 17, 2011 5:57 pm

    Thanks for the link and a fascinating read.

  5. April 17, 2011 7:10 pm

    Where’s the leak, ma’am?

    Uh, I mean, thanks for the link, man. Sorry, a little tired tonight . . .

  6. April 17, 2011 8:36 pm

    Thanks for the link! I thought of you this AM while reading my local dead tree newspaper. It seems some locals have acquired a working Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon, one of only 35 built.

    Maybe not a “fave” but pretty cool, nonetheless!

    • April 17, 2011 8:59 pm

      What a very cool and often unheard of “bomber” from World War II. A lot of my faves are the oddball planes that most people aren’t familiar with…so maybe it could be a future fave. =)

      Thanks for the info and it was my pleasure to link you. =)

  7. April 17, 2011 11:46 pm

    Thanks for the link. I think one of these things would work well in Afghanistan. One guy, all day long.

    • April 18, 2011 6:01 am

      Afghanistan, or like 5etester suggests, Detroit, not much of a difference.

  8. LD Jackson permalink
    April 18, 2011 4:53 am

    Again, a great post with interesting information about our military hardware. As always, thanks for the link.

  9. April 18, 2011 5:52 am

    Thanks for the link. Great info and history lesson on the rocket, I really enjoyed it!

  10. April 18, 2011 11:51 am

    Thanks for the link, Fleece.

  11. April 18, 2011 10:31 pm

    Looks like a later version of Stalin’s Organs.

    • April 19, 2011 2:22 am

      It is the grandchild of the rocket artillery introduced in WWII. I would say the direct descendent of the Katyusha, which was a large truck mounted system – replace the truck with an APC and you basically have the “looks” of an MLRS.

  12. April 19, 2011 12:06 am

    Thanks for the link Colin. Sorry I missed this yesterday. Keep up the great work my friend.

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