Artillery: Finland Stocks Up On Smart Rockets

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December 18, 2015: Finland has ordered another 240 guided rockets for its 22 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems) vehicles. These are American systems that Finland is very enthusiastic about. Each MLRS vehicle carries two pods each containing six rockets. In 2011 Finland upgraded its MLRS systems to handle the guided (by GPS) version of the MLRS missile. The 227mm MRLS rockets with GPS guidance also proved very useful in Iraq and Afghanistan and was often used rather than calling for an air strike.

In 2012 Finland ordered 70 MGM140 ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) artillery rockets. 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. ATACMS is armed 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 in the late 1970s 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.

 


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