The extended range (ER) guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS) belongs to the MLRS family of munitions (MFOM) developed by Lockheed Martin, an aerospace company based in the US.
It will offer an extended range of up to 150km in all weather conditions, while also offering a new height of burst (HOB) capability.
The Army Acquisition Executive approved a Modification Authorisation Memorandum in May 2017, authorising the implementation of ER GMLRS as an engineering change proposal to the ongoing production of the GMLRS Unitary and Alternative Warhead (AW) variants.
The ER GMLRS Test and Evaluation Master Plan Annex received approval from the US Director, Operational Test & Evaluation, in August 2020.
ER GMLS can be deployed on the combat-proven MLRS family of launchers, including a high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) and M270 MLRS.
ER GMLRS development details
Lockheed Martin showcased its advanced ER GMLRS during a test conducted at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in October 2022. The projectile was launched from the HIMARS launcher, successfully meeting all predefined success criteria in a short-range test flight covering approximately 59km to the designated target area.
The flight test is the final phase of the development programme and confirmed the flight trajectory, range and precision from lift-off to impact. It also showcased the lethality of the warhead, the ability to integrate with HIMARS and the overall performance of the missile.
Another flight test demonstrated an almost twofold increase in range while maintaining the accuracy of GMLRS in September 2023.
The rocket pod underwent stockpile-to-target sequence testing before the launch. The process simulated the cumulative effects that the ER GMLRS will encounter in the field throughout its lifespan, from factory production to launch. Additionally, it showcased the durability of both the missile and the launch pod container.
ER GMLRS design details
ER GMLRS is a next-generation low collateral damage, precision-guided rocket with a length of 3.93m and width of 0.22m. It enables the warfighter to accurately target and engage both specific points and broader areas with precision firepower.
Each launch pod or container carries six missiles. The M270 MLRS can carry two pods, while the HIMARS launchers can carry one pod.
ER GMLRS can be equipped with Unitary and AW warheads. It features a global positioning system-aided inertial guidance package and small manoeuvring canards on the rocket nose, which add manoeuvrability to improve the accuracy of the system.
An enlarged motor and tail-driven control also help to improve the manoeuvrability of the rocket.
Orders and deliveries
The US government approved a potential foreign military sale (FMS) to Finland, involving ER GMLRS and associated equipment, with an estimated cost of $91.2m in February 2021.
Finland will purchase 25 M30A2 ER GMLRS with ER GMLRS AW pods and ten M31A2 ER GMLRS Unitary pods.
The government of Australia requested to buy 66 M30A2 ER GMLRS AW pods and 24 M31A2 ER GMLRS Unitary (HE) pods, along with up to 22 M142 HIMARS and associated equipment and systems at an estimated cost of $975m in August 2023. The request followed a previous approval of an FMS in May 2022, under which 20 M142 HIMARS were requested with 30 XM403 ER GMLRS AW pods and 30 EM404 ER GMLRS Unitary pods along with related equipment and systems.
Estonia has requested up to 36 XM404 ER GMLRS Unitary pods with IMPS and SMPS HOB capability, while Lithuania will buy 36 XM403 ER GMLRS AW missile pods with IMPS and 36 XM404 ER GMLRS Unitary pods with IMPS along with M142 HIMARS launchers.
The GMLRS is a rapidly deployable, surface-to-surface system designed for engaging, neutralising, suppressing and eliminating targets through indirect precision fires at distances exceeding 70km.
GMLRS munitions exhibit superior accuracy compared to ballistic rockets, resulting in a higher probability of successful hits and a reduced logistics footprint.
The existing GMLRS munition line-up comprises three deployed variants, the dual-purpose improved conventional munition and AW variants that are tailored for area targets, apart from the Unitary variant, which is equipped with a single 200-pound-class high-explosive charge for precise engagement of point targets with minimal collateral damage.