United States accelerates production of HIMARS after its impressive performance in Ukraine

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The HIMARS Rocket Artillery System is one of the most advanced and deadliest Rocket Launching System in the world. It has proven itself in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. This Rocket Artillery System has been said as the gamechanger, it has destroyed several russian ammunition depots, stores, artillery units, etc with its very precise strikes. After the outstanding performance in the Ukrainian battlefield, the demand for buying the M142 HIMARS system in the world is so high that the US had to “pour” an additional $65 million USD to increase its production capacity by more than 50%.

According to the Ukrainian Defense Magazine, US arms exporter Lockheed Martin plans to increase production of the High Mobility Artillery Missile System (HIMARS), a weapon that is in high demand in Ukraine, Europe and many other countries after its devastating performance in conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

USA has decided to invest an additional 65 million USD to increase the output production of HIMARS to 96 systems/year compared to 60 systems/year at the present time.

The M142 HIMARS is a light rocket artillery system developed in the 1990s for the United States Army, based on the chassis of the M1140 truck.

HIMARS consists of a 5-ton armored truck equipped to launch missiles with a caliber of 227 mm. Each of these systems can carry six series-launched guided missiles (GMLRS) with a range of 70-80km.

HIMARS can conduct massive bombardment, suppression and counterattacks or carry out artillery missions at a range of nearly 70 km.

With a crew of three, each HIMARS system can replace a used missile platform with a new one within minutes, without the need for other vehicle support.

The US military has deployed many HIMARS systems in Europe and also supplied these to NATO allies such as Poland and Romania.

The 20 HIMARS systems sent by the United States to Ukraine have been outstanding on the battlefield, allowing Ukrainian forces to bombard tens of kilometers behind the Russian front lines in the Donbas region and around Kherson.

Despite the huge capital investment, Lockheed Martin may take a long time to expand the line, in order to increase production from 5 to 8 HIMARS systems per month.

The US military is also putting pressure on Lockheed to increase production further. The unit is aiming to “double or more double” capacity, equivalent to 120 HIMARS launchers production per year.

Detailed information about the HIMARS operational history in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War

On 31 May 2022, the US announced that it would be supplying HIMARS to Ukraine with M31 GMLRS unitary rockets. The next day, it was reported that four units would be sent. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said that the US would be able to send more systems as the fighting evolves. On 23 June, the first HIMARS arrived in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. On 25 June 2022, Ukraine started deploying the system against Russian forces during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s Chief of General Staff, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi,

“Artillerymen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine hit … military targets of the enemy on our, Ukrainian, territory”.

The Ukrainian military claimed that this first strike, on a Russian base in Izyum, killed over 40 soldiers. The day before, a second batch of four was announced to be delivered in mid-July.

On 1 July, a US defense official told reporters that Ukraine had been using the system to destroy Russian command posts: “selecting targets and then accurately hitting them … degrading Russian capability”. On 18 July, Zaluzhnyi said: “An important factor contributing to our retention of defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of M142 HIMARS, which deliver surgical strikes on enemy control posts, ammunition and fuel storage depots.”

Another four HIMARS were announced for delivery on 8 July, the delivery spacing driven by the weeks-long process to train Ukrainian troops on how to use the platform. To avoid escalating the conflict, US restricted Ukraine from firing HIMARS rockets into Russian territory. For the same reason, the US has not provided Ukraine with the longer-range ATACMS missile, which could easily engage targets inside of Russia.

A fourth batch of four was announced on 20 July, bringing the total number of HIMARS committed to Ukraine to 16. Ukrainian Defense Minister Reznikov claimed that the country needed “at least 100” of the system and that by that point, eight systems had destroyed 30 command stations and ammunition storage facilities, decreasing the intensity of Russian shelling and slowing their advance. In that announcement, it was revealed that the number delivered had reached 12 launchers. That number had increased to 16 by 1 August.

On 30 August, 2022, The Washington Post reported on Ukrainian claims to have successfully used decoy HIMARS units made out of wood to draw at least 10 Russian 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles. One US diplomat was reported to state that Russian sources had claimed more HIMARS destroyed than the US had sent. A Pentagon official had earlier in the month asserted that no HIMARS had been destroyed at that time.

On 8 September, US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters: “We are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine in the use of these systems. For example, the Ukrainians have struck over 400 targets with the HIMARS and they’ve had devastating effect”.

A further 18 HIMARS were announced on 28 September, however it was part of an aid package aimed at meeting Ukraine’s mid- and long-term needs, so deliveries would begin in six months at the earliest. Ukraine had previously been provided with only M31 Unitary Warhead missiles, which are “not ideal against targets spread over large areas, as the deadly chunks are not designed to fly far.” As of early October they have been granted the M30A1 which uses the Alternative Warhead that can cover up to “half a square mile of land in a single salvo” with nearly 200,000 tungsten ball bearings. The US also announced on 4 October that four more HIMARS launchers would be provided from US military stockpiles, bringing the total to 20 HIMARS in Ukrainian service.

In response to the effects of HIMARS, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared the HIMARS system as a high priority target for Russian troops. Ukrainian officials identified Russia’s kamikaze drones as the biggest threat to the HIMARS system.

Current and future operaters of the HIMARS Rocket Artillery System

HIMARS is currently operated by the Armed Forces of the United States, Ukraine, Singapore, Romania, Jordan and UAE.

A large number of nations has ordered the HIMARS, the list includes Australia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Taiwan.

On 21 October 2020, the US government approved the sale of 11 HIMARS to Taiwan. Following the successful use of HIMARS in Ukraine, the order may increase up to 29 launchers.

On 29 November 2018 the US State Department approved HIMARS sale to Poland. In 2022, according to a tweet by Poland’s Minister of National Defense, Poland has requested a buy order of an additional 500 systems to strengthen its military.

The Pentagon reports that the Australian Army had asked to purchase 20 HIMARS, with the sale being approved by the U.S. State Department on 26 May 2022.

 

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