The Army plans to award a contract to Lockheed Martin [LMT] next month to begin full-rate production of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) Alternative Warhead (AW), a service spokesman said late April 21.

The full-rate production decision was made by Army acquisition executive Heidi Shyu earlier this month and will be formalized in a signed acquisition decision memorandum “within 30 days,” said Chris Geisel, spokesman for the Army Program Executive Office for Missiles & Space. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2016.

GMLRS Alternative Warhead Firing Photo: Lockheed Martin
GMLRS Alternative Warhead Firing
Photo: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin said in a statement April 22 that the GMLRS AW program successfully completed its initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) in late fall 2014 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., where “the system was tested under realistic operating conditions.” The company said, “the tests included the first tactically representative flight tests against simulated targets, and were also the first tests conducted with soldiers operating the fire-control system.”

Lockheed Martin received a three-year, $79.4 million contract in April 2012 to develop GMLRS AW. Orbital ATK [OA] has been developing the warhead under subcontract to Lockheed Martin.

The Army and Marine Corps plan to buy the surface-to-surface artillery rocket to replace the GMLRS Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM), a cluster munition whose production was terminated because of concerns about the danger that unexploded ordnance poses to civilians. GMLRS AW is a non-cluster munition but can engage the same target set as the “area-effects” DPICM, according to the Department of Defense. GMLRS AW is about 90 percent common with GMLRS Unitary, which is designed for “point targets” and has been in full-rate production for six years, DOD budget documents indicate.

GMLRS is fired by the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). It has a range of about 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) and is designed to destroy enemy field artillery and air defenses.