MBDA has entered into a memorandum of agreement with Lockheed Martin/Diehl joint venture Euro Rocket System (ERS) to establish a European prime contractor for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) production.

The companies will work with Italy's Fiat Avio to form an industry team for Guided MLRS, which is being acquired by France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the USA. European production is set to begin in 2005.

MBDA combines Alenia Marconi Systems missile activities, EADS Aerospatiale Matra Missiles and Matra Bae Dynamics and is due to shortly get government approval.

Guided MLRS will have a 60km (30nm) range and incorporates a GPS satellite navigation-aided inertial guidance package in an improved rocket body. Small canards on the rocket nose provide basic manoeuvrability and enhance the system's accuracy. Late last month, the US Army and Lockheed Martin completed the second ballistic flight test of a Guided MLRS rocket.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has conducted developmental testing of the improved M270A1 MLRS launcher. Operational testing is to begin in August at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The launcher incorporates an improved fire control system, using GPS, and new components that reduce the time it takes to aim and reload the rockets.

Stewart & Stevenson Tactical Vehicle Systems is furnishing two medium tactical trucks to serve as the wheeled chassis for the US Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The USMC will conduct a two-year HIMARS evaluation beginning early next year. HIMARS incorporates the MLRS.

Source: Flight International