Army tests safer warhead

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System fires a rocket equipped with an area effect warhead designed to replace cluster munitions in a test conducted April 3, 2014, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel Lara)

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System fires a rocket equipped with an area effect warhead designed to replace cluster munitions in a test conducted April 3, 2014, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel Lara)

By John Andrew Hamilton, ATEC Public Affairs

A guided rocket test conducted at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., April 3 saw the use of a new warhead designed to maintain military capabilities while reducing the danger of unexploded ordnance.

The new warhead being developed by the Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems program’s Alternative Warhead Project is expected to replace the cluster munitions being phased out by the U.S. military.

Cluster munitions are designed to disperse a large number of small grenade-like bomblets over a large area. While highly effective against area targets, all the bomblets don’t always explode and can remain on the battlefield for some time, posing a risk to civilians or servicemembers working in the area. This danger resulted in the United States banning the export of cluster munitions to allies and setting limits on their future use.

“At the end of 2018 our inventory is no longer usable, and there are constraints on its use today,” said Col. Gary Stephens, project manager for the Alternative Warheads Program. “The Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, alternative warhead is the materiel solution replacement to meet that still remaining requirement for an area weapon.”

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