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Finland Goes Long To Annoy Russia
by James Dunnigan
July 5, 2012

Finland has ordered 70 MGM140 ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) artillery rockets from the United States. Finland already has 22 M270 MLRS rocket launchers, which the ATACMS is launched from. Finland is getting the ATACMS equipped with a 227 kg (500 pound) high explosive warhead. The U.S. used over 700 ATACMS in Iraq and Afghanistan and was satisfied with their performance. These rockets use GPS guidance to hit targets up to 300 kilometers away. Sort of like the popular 500 pound JDAM smart bomb used by the air force but not requiring an aircraft to deliver it.

When the U.S. Army first introduced its long range ATACMS rocket 25 years ago, it designed fancy warheads that distributed lots of smaller bomblets. While these worked, there was always a problem with some of the bomblets not self-destructing and later going off when civilians, or American troops, came along. Not a popular weapon. Then, when a version with GPS guidance and a single 500 pound high explosive (or "unitary") warhead was introduced, it proved very popular. These rockets cost about $1.2 million dollars each. A 500 pound JDAM costs about $35,000, although you can add a few thousand dollars more to cover the expense of operating the jet bomber that delivered it.

The ATACMS is a 610mm rocket that fits in the same size container that normally holds six 227mm MLRS rockets (with a max range of 70 kilometers). ATACMS has sufficient range to reach many military targets inside Russia. This has annoyed Russia, as has Finnish plans to join NATO. Finland has been annoying Russia for centuries, something the Finns never seem to get tired of.


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