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Howitzers shooting rockets and Rockets acting like missiles

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  • Howitzers shooting rockets and Rockets acting like missiles

    This thread stems from the premise that there is a lack of capability in current US military doctrine beyond what the 120 mm L/44 M256A1 smoothbore gun 4km, TOW 4.5km, or Javelin 4.75km (mounted) can reach and the uncertain availability of fire support assets like aircraft or artillery. Why not bring your own precision fires? Of course, any commander should plan to have fires planned out ahead of an operation in case they are needed, but what if the fires are not available or where conventional fires cannot be used in civilian areas where there's a risk of collateral damage? Aircraft can't loiter on station forever waiting for something to happen and a smart enemy knows to wait until they aren't in the area as it takes time to call out air support. The Army wants mortars to reach out to 20km, but I believe RFPs are due next year and with fielding in 2026. There are 120mm mortars already and they can reach out to 7km already but they lack the type of precision current rockets or missiles can achieve. Guided mortars maybe? Anyways, I was thinking of differences between Destroyers and Frigates or Frigates and Corvettes and it reminded me of the differences between modern rocket artillery and howitzers blurring as rocket artillery becomes more precise and howitzers gain more range as well as precision.

    It seems that since the Gulf War there has been an evolution that necessitates the redefinition of what artillery can do and what it now is. The Soviets seem to have been an early adopter and have been loyal to rocket artillery, tactical ballistic missiles, and theater ballistic missiles, even making road-mobile theater ballistic missiles (RT-15) with a range of 2000–2500 km in the 1960s! The common image of rocket artillery is changing too.
    15836541815e64a525041b97.78636890.jpgKatyusha!

    Where self-propelled rocket artillery and surface to surface ballistic missiles had distinct separations based on range and guidance, it seems now even the venerable BM-21 Grad can fire guided rockets.
    Tornado-G_122mm_MLRS_Multiple_Launch_Rocket_System_Russia_Russian_army_defence_industry_military_technology_925_001.jpgThe modern BM-21 Grad or 9K51M "Tornado-G" with satellite-guided capable rockets.

    full?d=1521490682.jpgMGM-52 Lance

    With these Cold War-era systems. You had either unguided rockets from 82mm up to 550mm FROGs doing what unguided rockets do when they are fired into the air and left to fall wherever meanwhile ballistic missiles were designed with the intent of carrying nuclear warheads where precise guidance wasn't needed (blast radius was large enough). The only guidance many of these missiles have is inertial, although I would like to know if any Cold War ballistic missiles were fitted with more sophisticated guidance systems. I believe it was the ATACMS that was the first tactical ballistic missile to be used with GPS guidance where there was no longer a need for ballistic missiles to carry nuclear warheads. Ironically these missiles are fired from multiple rocket launcher systems, (probably because there was no other alternative) designed for firing unguided rockets.

    Not to forget the artillery, in the 1970s? the M549 rocket-assisted 155 mm shell extended its range to 30 km when fired from an M198 howitzer. Then the M982 Excalibur was introduced in 2007 where howitzers can now fire satellite-guided 155 mm shells accurately up to 40km away. In February, an Excaliber shell was able to shoot a moving target using GPS and laser guidance. The new XM1113 rocket-assisted 155 mm shell was able to fire 60 km away from a 58-caliber, 30-foot gun tube. A new M109A7 upgrade is being developed for the new gun and shell.

    size0.jpgXM1113
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    Last edited by Frtigern; 05 Jun 20, 08:05.
    The Europa Barbarorum II team [M2TW] needs YOUR HELP NOW HERE!

  • #2
    Is this the maximum range of tube artillery? To make artillery even more like firing missiles, there is the XM1155 Ramjet artillery shell with the supposed ability to hit targets 100km away.

    So what about the MLRS and HIMARS? If artillery will soon be firing up to 100km will rocket artillery still be needed? Using conventional munitions, would a 6 rocket volley of MLRS rockets or a battery of 155 mm HE shells do more damage? I believe there are submunition rockets but don't think there are any submunition artillery shells. Although would an airburst HE shell qualify as submunitions? Maybe only for anti-personnel duty while EFP submunitions would be better against armor. With the ATACMS and now the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) which has a range of at least 240km but with the withdrawal fo the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty we could soon see MLRS' firing missiles farther than 500km. Starting as rocket artillery, now tactical ballistic missile capable and later theater ballistic missile capabilities, with howitzers maybe soon to be able to reach tactical ballistic missile ranges.

    In the air, we're now seeing guided 70mm Hydra rockets (AGR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS)), on land we have the 57mm NAVAIR Spike missile which is the smallest ground-launched guided missile? The AGM-176 Griffin is a 140 mm surface to surface missile that could use its GPS guidance to become a cheaper precision missile alternative to the Javelin. You could even erect launchers in FOBs or mount on Humvees. Another option are guided missiles like the LAHAT which is a 105 mm ATGM that can be fired from 105 or 120 mm smoothbore tank barrels.

    Yet this idea isn't new. In the post-INF treaty world, we may be seeing the reintroduction of a land-based Tomahawk like the BGM-109G Gryphon (GLCM) used in the 1980s.

    This system concept looks like a viable launcher for cruise missiles. A 10x10 HEMTT or LVSR. This seems like the easiest and most capable version whereas the HIMARS can probably only carry two cells and is on a lighter chassis. There are Patriot systems that used to have its missile cells mounted directly onto a HEMTT chassis, although most I've seen are trailer mounted. So instead of your standard ballistic missile trajectories, cruise missiles can fly under the radar and strike. Not a capability we have needed for the Army recently, but against a conventional enemy able to threaten airspace and launch its own precision missile strikes a 500+ km ground-hugging missile could be useful. It makes me wonder what is the smallest cruise missile and whether the technology can be miniaturized for battlefield use as in a JLTV mounted launcher.

    With UCAVs being the primary strike aircraft in the past decade and with jerry-rigged commercial drones dropping indigenous munitions in Ukraine and Syria, it's not too much of a stretch to develop small UCAVs loaded with lots of small precision missiles (like the guided Hydras, Spikes and Griffins) or larger UCAVs capable of firing mini-cruise missiles. Maybe we will see small-sized UCAV squadrons forward deployed with battalions and above on austere airfields like pastures, flat desert, snow, ice, beaches, etc. Like the Army's RQ-7 Shadow with a couple of lightweight guided missiles and be fired from anywhere, and hopefully landed, refueled and rearmed to launch again and again. This gives a field officer another tactical fire support weapon they can call on that doesn't depend on waiting on conventional air assets or calling a fire mission from artillery (if available).

    These missiles can then be developed for ground use like mechanized companies wanting a weapon system that can reach out beyond where tank cannons, TOWs or Javelins can reach and where they can't rely on air support or artillery to provide fires in quick enough time. In other words, an organic weapons platform that provides long-range precision fires using on a vehicle capable of travelling with an armored formation. Could be tracked or wheeled, or both! I can envision the M113 replacement or Bradley replacement chassis providing a good basis for the tracked version. Any 'ole truck for the wheeled version, maybe a light and a heavy variant?
    The Europa Barbarorum II team [M2TW] needs YOUR HELP NOW HERE!

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