Then, there’s the rockets

First Marine HIMARS provides new battlefield capabilities

AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (Dec. 14, 2007) — What’s the biggest difference between your truck and theirs? For starters, a couple tons. But then, there’s the rockets. Theirs have rockets.

With the Corps’ new High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, the Marines of Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, provide an alternative to conventional air support, which requires time for an aircraft to be prepared and deployed.

These Marines are reservists from Oklahoma. Here’s the HIMARS letting one loose:

More from the article:

HIMARS can fire all current and future missiles that fall under the multiple launch rocket system munitions family. But with recent stability in the province, the battery hasn’t fired much at all. Lipka underscored the brightside of their slow business.

–Kind of like the fire department,” said Lipka. –Those guys spend a lot of time practicing to do their job. You hope you never need them, but when you do you’re sure glad you have them.”

HIMARS, basically an MLRS Lite, is being acquired by both the Marines and the Army. The UAE is also buying it. It seems that it would be a natural fit for armies looking to use the proven and growing MLRS program but don’t want or need the full-blown heavy systems.


  1. MO, I used to wonder sometimes why we never fielded commie-style wheeled MRLs. And now…well, I still don’t know. Doesn’t seem terrifically complicated- put a rocket deck (which already exists) on a truck (which also exists). Add whatever fire control apparatuses you need to shoot accurately (which, too, already exist), and you got yourself a light(er) rocket artillery piece. Prolly doesn’t float, though. I think it’ll do the trick. I mean, until you have hundreds of satellites waiting to throw down reinforced tungsten rods as orbital artillery.

  2. Now I’m, in principle, all for orbiting tungsten artillery, but we have issues getting CAS in (sometimes) in a timely manner. Can you imagine trying to rely on satellites for that? Not that I think anyone is suggesting we should. It’s just that the ground pounders like to have their own firepower on hand for when the flyboys won’t get there as soon as they want. Even if the Army (or Marines) got control of the all the fixed-wing CAS aircraft and UAVs, planes still would have limitations. And the Marines are better off in this regard than the Army in some ways (their own F-18s and Harriers, for instance). Even in this sort of asymmetric combat, artillery has its place. Orbiting death-dealing satellites of love have theirs, too, though. Bring it on.

  3. From my former live in the Corps, I started as a cannon cocker. I don’t think anyone should leave home without it. It’s there 24/7 rain shine or snow. As to air support (since I am tossin in my opinions that no one asked for) I have expereinced controlling 3 kinds of air support. US Air Force …. close air support in my experinece requires binos to actually see the planes. US Navy … close air support aircraft can be seen with the naked eye. USMC …. close air support requires you ‘get down’ and replace the whip antenna with the tape antenna

  4. I don’t know how PAO screwed this one up. It’s actually Bty F, 2d Bn, 14th Marine Regt. All Marine Corps Arty Regiments are double digit. 10th, 11th, 12th are active, 14th is reserve. HIMARS is a great idea though. I don’t know why the Marine Corps keeps procuring towed howitzers exclusively. GIAT offered a truck mounted 155mm howitzer to the Marine Corps a few years ago but we didn’t take it. Seemed like a good idea.

  5. When I finally saw a picture of a HIMARS, it was a sort of head-slapping moment. Why, I thought to myself, didn’t we field this fifteen years ago? It was good enough for Momma Russia for decade after decade.

  6. J.M. and Harley, Well, I don’t know what kind of work I would need to have done to wedge those tires under my truck, but as soon as I read that their max rated speed was about 60mph….well, no way. I spend alot of time on highways in Connecticut, where driving merely 60 mph can get you killed! That is, if you’re not in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It’s either-or.