The U.S. Army has announced that it is deployed
the M270 multiple launch rocket systems or
MLRS in Europe along with several support
These will be received by 41st Field Artillery
Brigade, which is the only U.S. rocket artillery
brigade in Europe.
Viewers may note that 41st Field Artillery
Brigade was activated in November last year
and is based out of Germany.
Reports indicate that the Brigade has received
around 16 M270A1 MLRS.
In this video Defense Updates analyzes U.S.
Army deployment of M270 A1 Multiple Launch
Rocket Systems in Europe.
Let’s get started.
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In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union had a
clear advantage over U.S. and NATO forces
in terms of rocket artillery.
Soviet tactics of bombardment by large numbers
of truck-mounted MRLs, such as the BM-21,
would saturate a target area with thousands
of rockets, ensuring some would hit specific
targets while delivering a psychological impact.
By contrast, American artillerists favored
cannon artillery for its relative accuracy
and ammunition conservation over “area fire”
rockets, and as a result were left with a
small amount of WW2-vintage rocket artillery.
This mindset began to change following the
1973 Yom Kippur War, which saw high loss rates,
especially from rear-area weapons like Surface-to-Air
Missiles (SAMs), as well as the effective
Israeli tactic of hitting such sites with
This combined with the realization that such
an experience would happen on a larger scale
in the event of war in Europe, the U.S. Army
wrote a requirement for a new rocket launcher
in March 1974 called the General Support Rocket
System (GSRS).
It was envisaged to be used to engage enemy
air defenses and for counterbattery fire,
freeing cannon units to provide close support
for ground forces.
NATO allies including the United Kingdom,
France, and West Germany were consulted on
the project, and since they had already been
looking to create a similar system independently,
their name for it was adopted, changing GSRS
to MLRS.
Development began in September 1977 by Boeing
and Vought Aerospace, and first production
models were delivered in August 1982.
An M270 launcher unit has two six-rocket pods
for a total of 12 rockets or missile.
These pods are basically disposable containers.
The rockets are fired straight away from these
It is interesting to note that the rockets
can be stored in these pods for around 10
years with any need for maintenance.
The launcher unit is mounted on a stretched
Bradley chassis which makes the system mobile.
The vehicle has a maximum speed of 40 miles/hr
or 64 km/hr and a range of 300 miles or 483
The system has 3 crew – a driver, gunner and
section chief.
The launcher unit is self-loading and self-aiming
system and can be fired without the crew leaving
the vehicle.
The system is accurate as it has a dedicated
fire control computer.
Rockets can be fired individually or in ripples
of two to 12.
All the 12 can be launched within 60 seconds
if required.
The rockets have a range of more than 30 km
or 18.5 miles.
The same system can be used to launch TacMS
Block IA missiles which can reach beyond 300
km or 185 miles.
TacMS or Tactical Missile System is a surface-to-surface
missile manufactured by the American company
Lockheed Martin.
Two important developments have taken place
in recent times.
First is that Russia has been modernizing
its forces rapidly and is much more capable
It has also been more aggressive which can
be gauged by its Crimea campaign.
Second is the recent nullification of the
INF Treaty in August.
INF Treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and
Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.
It banned ground-launch missiles with ranges
from 500 km to 5,500 km that is 310 to 3420 miles
The INF Treaty eliminated around 2,700 nuclear
and conventional missiles, as well as their
This was achieved by May 1991.
This included short-range missile with 310–620
mi that is 5000–1,000 km range and intermediate
range missile with 620–3,420 mi that is
1,000–5,500 km range.
These developments increase the probability
of a skirmish or full-blown conflict in Europe.
Russia has in its armory several MLRS systems
like BM-21 Grad and 9A52-4 Tornado.
Keeping this in mind, deployment of M270 multiple
launch rocket systems is a significant tactical
decision as it has the capability to saturate
the target area with intense and concentrated fire.

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