For several weeks now, the names of the American M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS multiple rocket launchers have repeatedly appeared in statements by Ukrainian officials and representatives of partner countries ready to provide weapons to Ukraine. First, President Zelensky included M142 HIMARS in the list of heavy weapons needed by Ukraine in the new phase of the war, later Deputy Head of the US State Department Victoria Nuland mentioned “MRL which the US is already supplying” and now Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine informed that “Ukrainain Armed Forces have used new samples of MRL provided by partner countries”. What kind of miracle weapon is this that everyone is waiting for?

M142 HIMARS та M270 MLRS - multiple rocket launchers, very much awaited in Ukraine

M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS are universal MRL systems that can use the full range of Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions. We are talking about both unguided missiles with cluster munitions, mines, “smart bombs” and controlled cluster munitions guided short-range and medium-range missiles. The pearl of this family is a medium-range ballistic missile MGM-140 ATACMS with a combat radius of 300 km, which can reach the frontline airfields and rashists’ depots.

The M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS chassis differ in novelty. The M270 MLRS was designed in the late 1970s, entered service in 1983, and has a tracked chassis from the M2 Bradley BMP. M142 HIMARS was developed in the second half of the 1990s, and it started to be transferred to units in 2002. In addition, HIMARS was immediately developed as a highly mobile system, the abbreviation HIMARS stands for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – a highly mobile artillery missile system. Therefore, M142 HIMARS is built on the chassis of an army truck M1140 (a modification of the Austrian Steyr 12M18).

M142 HIMARS та M270 MLRS - multiple rocket launchers, very much awaited in Ukraine

M270 MLRS carries two universal units on 6 unguided/guided missiles of 227 mm caliber each (or one MGM-140 ATACMS with a diameter of 610 mm), meanwhile, M142 HIMARS has just one such package. The missiles are in unified transport and launch containers, which are convenient to store, transport, and recharge. The M270 MLRS can launch 12 packet missiles per minute, HIMARS takes half the time. The use of a wheeled chassis, rapid deployment, and dismantling of the complex, digital fire control allows M142 HIMARS to use the beat-and-run tactics so loved by the Armed Forces. The M270, which has a crawler chassis, is slightly less mobile.

M142 HIMARS та M270 MLRS - multiple rocket launchers, very much awaited in Ukraine

M142 HIMARS is quite a new system, so it does not need modifications, but M270 MLRS has been upgraded several times. In 2005 M270A1 received a new fire control system and a new mechanical part of the launcher, which allowed MLRS to use guided munitions. But M270C1 in general received a fire control system from HIMARS. M270D1 is another update and again in terms of fire control – this time for missiles with GPS guidance, updated computer, displays, GPS antenna, remote control system. That is, even the “old” M270 is a very modern weapon.

Depending on the modification of the 227-mm missiles, the M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS systems can hit targets at a distance of 32-70 km, and with the GMLRS-ER long-range missile even 150 km, it is a pity that these munitions began to be produced only in 2022.

M142 HIMARS та M270 MLRS - multiple rocket launchers, very much awaited in Ukraine

MGM-140 ATACMS is a different thing, this missile hits 300 km. Modification of the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which is currently being tested, even at 499 km (not 500 km, because this is a violation of the Treaty on the Elimination of Medium-Range and Short-Range Missiles). ATACMS flies on a ballistic trajectory, rising to a height of 50 km, at a speed of 1 km/s (Mach 3), and has inertial and GPS guidance. A good addition to our “Tochka-U”, which will allow you to steer Russian aircraft from airfields near the borders of Ukraine.

It is not known for sure whether the M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS have already arrived in Ukraine, or whether this is just an element of a psychological operation because gunners still need to be trained to work with American equipment. But after yesterday’s meeting at the Rammstein base, there is no doubt that Ukraine will eventually receive American MLRS. And that’s great.

M142 HIMARS та M270 MLRS - multiple rocket launchers, very much awaited in Ukraine

Specifications M270 MLRS
Weight – 25 t
Length – 6,85 m
Width – 2.97 m
Height – 2.59 m
Crew – 3
Bore – 227 mm
Number of missiles – 12×227 mm, or 2×MGM-140 ATACMS
The rate of fire – 18 shots/min
Effective firing range –32-70 km (missiles bore 227 mm), up to 300 km (MGM-140 ATACMS) up to 499 km (Precision Strike Missile)
Engine – diesel Cummins
Powerplant – 500 horsepower
Range: 480 km
Maximum Road Speed: 64 km/h

M142 HIMARS та M270 MLRS - multiple rocket launchers, very much awaited in Ukraine

Specifications M142 HIMARS
Weight – 16.25 t
Length – 7 m
Width – 2,4 m
Height – 3.2 m
Crew – 3
Bore – 227 mm
Number of missiles – 6×227 mm, or 1×MGM-140 ATACMS
The rate of fire – 18 shots/min
Effective firing range –32-70 km (missiles bore 227 mm), up to 300 km (MGM-140 ATACMS), up to 499 km (Precision Strike Missile)
Range of movement – 480 km
Maximum Road Speed – 85 km/h

M142 HIMARS та M270 MLRS - multiple rocket launchers, very much awaited in Ukraine

Specifications of the missile MGM-140 ATACMS
Weight – 1670 kg
Length – 4 m
Bore – 610 mm
Maximum firing range – 300 km, up to 499 km (Precision Strike Missile)
Wingspan – 1.4 m
Roof – 50 km
Maximum Road Speed – 3 Machs (1 km/s)
Controls – inertial navigation and GPS
Platforms – M270 MLRS, M142 HIMARS