Lockheed Martin sets record with new ER GMLRS missile test

The test was conducted from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System that achieved a record-breaking distance of approximately 93 miles.
Rizwan Choudhury
Lockheed Martin’s Extended-Range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (ER GMLRS) .jpg
Lockheed Martin’s Extended-Range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (ER GMLRS)

Lockheed Martin 

In a recent demonstration, aerospace titan Lockheed Martin announced the successful flight test of its next-generation Extended-Range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (ER GMLRS). This event took place at the iconic White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, a sprawling 3,200 square-mile facility previously known for hosting the world's first atomic bomb detonation.

The test, conducted from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) used by the US Army, saw the ER GMLRS cover a record-breaking approximately 93 miles (150 kilometers). This almost doubles the range of the existing Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS).

A leap in precision firepower

In a press release, Jay Price, vice president of Precision Fires at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, highlighted the implications of the test. "Not only did this test demonstrate nearly double the range, but it also maintained the precision that GMLRS is recognized for. This development moves the ER GMLRS one step closer to deployment, reinforcing our commitment to delivering this vital capability on an accelerated timeline to our Army customer," he said in an official press release.

The ER GMLRS met the pre-defined criteria for the first 93-mile test, including flight trajectory, range, and accuracy from launch to impact. Furthermore, the integration of the rocket system with the HIMARS was reported to be seamless, scoring an outstanding overall missile performance.

Simulate real-world conditions

To simulate real-world conditions that the missile might face, the rocket pod underwent stockpile-to-target sequence (STS) testing. This process, a practice dating back to the 1960s, is designed to evaluate the missile’s performance under varying environmental factors, such as temperature changes and jostling during transportation. Lockheed Martin stated that this testing phase confirmed the durability of the missile and its launch pod container.

Lockheed Martin has an annual contract to produce GMLRS unitary and alternative-warhead rockets for the US Army and Marine Corps. To date, the company has produced over 60,000 GMLRS rounds, catering not just to the U.S. forces but also to other international clients.

Geopolitical impact and future aspects

The demonstration carries significant geopolitical implications. The HIMARS system has previously played a crucial role in Ukraine's offensives. The extended range of the ER GMLRS could offer newer, more potent options, not just for the US but also for allied countries like Ukraine, particularly if conflicts prolong.

As the Ukrainian government continues to seek additional military aid from the United States, including longer-range artillery options like the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), the successful testing of the ER GMLRS could represent a middle-ground solution in ongoing conflicts.

Next steps

A second test of the ER GMLRS is scheduled for later this month. Should it prove successful, the US Army is expected to integrate these extended-range rockets into its regular production schedule. Lockheed Martin is not just making strides in missile technology; the company has also been selected by NASA to develop in-space manufacturing technologies, reinforcing its position as a leader in both defense and space technologies.

In a related development, reports are suggesting that the Pentagon may have recently conducted, or is on the verge of conducting, a confidential hypersonic missile test near Cape Canaveral, Florida. While specific details about the event remain scarce, airspace and maritime navigation warnings were issued around the same time, alerting pilots and mariners in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral. Such indications have prompted analysts to speculate that this could potentially be a critical test run before the system is officially deployed by the United States ground forces.

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