After the massive combat success of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in the ongoing Ukraine war, Lockheed Martin has announced a ‘record-breaking’ annual production goal.
Company executives from US defense giant Lockheed Martin stated recently that the company’s mobile rocket launcher facility in Camden, Arkansas, will ramp up manufacturing of its HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system to 96 units annually, Reuters reported.
“We’ve already met with our long lead supply chain to plan for increasing production to 96 of these units a year,” the news agency quoted a Lockheed Martin executive. In early 2022, it was producing 48 HIMARS units a year. Since then, the company has ramped production to 60 units annually.
HIMARS is one of the many systems delivered by the United States to Ukraine that allowed the Ukrainian Armed Forces to gain some decisive victories, especially in the counteroffensive launched in September and October last year that led to recapturing of Kherson.
A new $2 billion US military aid program for Ukraine unveiled by the Pentagon on February 24 particularly includes ammunition for HIMARS. Lockheed describes HIMARS as a highly reliable, combat-proven system that has “exceeded all performance requirements.”
“When you have a combat-proven system that is out there and in the news – daily – then that’s driving that demand,” said Jennifer McManus, the vice president for Lockheed’s missile business operations.
In December last year, the US Army awarded a $430,930,711 contract to the Lockheed Martin Corporation for the full-rate manufacturing of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems M142 launchers to support the Army and various US Foreign Military Sales partners.
At the time, the service had said that the agreement would enable the American government to support its allies and partners and replace its stocks more quickly.
“The Department continues to focus on accelerating contracting actions and providing a persistent demand signal to our partners in industry,” said Dr. William A. LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment at the time. “This award is another example of the steps we are taking to replenish stockpiles and strengthen the industrial base.”
The increase in production follows a burgeoning demand for the system globally based on its exceptional performance in the Ukraine war.
The system quickly gained popularity as Poland placed a massive order for the Lockheed MLRS. However, its successful deployment in Ukraine caused a domino effect in the region, with several other countries, including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and, more recently, the Netherlands lining up for purchase.
Ukraine War Boosted The Popularity & Production Of HIMARS
The Ukrainian military has lauded the HIMARS MLRS as a game-changing system in its battle against Russia as it compensated for Ukraine’s inferior air force by allowing the military to swiftly execute precision strikes at standoff distances, somewhat (but not entirely) discounting the need for air power.
Ukrainian troops destroyed hundreds of Russian positions and ammunition storage facilities far from the frontlines by using long-range HIMARS rockets. The defending forces could push the Russians further away from the frontlines by employing these lethal MLRS.
And while Russian commanders initially expressed their misgivings about the system, they have been wary of it since it started to wreak havoc on Moscow’s positions. In Kyiv, the system enjoys a ‘cult status’ and is regularly used by the troops to tease the Russians.
General Sergei Surovikin of Russia recognized that the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southern region of Kherson had placed the Russian Army in a “difficult” situation in his first interview after taking over as commander last year.
The Ukrainian offensive, majorly led by the HIMARS, pounded Russian positions and made them retreat.
While Russia claims to have destroyed several of these American-made systems, new reports revealed that the HIMARS that Russia believed were obliterated turned out to be decoys or inflatables delivered to Ukraine by a Czech company.
In fact, not only have the Ukrainian troops used the HIMARS to obliterate Russian military infrastructure and ammo depots, the HIMARS-lookalike balloons have been used for ‘guzzling‘ Russia’s precision-guided missiles.
“Even decoys are now an important weapon for the Ukrainians. It is used not only to confuse Russian attackers but as a cheap target for Russian missiles and rockets, which cost up to thousands of dollars,” the company’s representative manufacturing the balloon said.
The HIMARS continues to be Ukraine’s most extensively employed system on the battlefield. And as the global demand for this cutting-edge system mounts, the production of this advanced system is expected to rise in full swing.