Author Topic: More HIMARS for Ukraine?  (Read 268 times)

Offline apophenia

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More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« on: November 24, 2022, 11:03:31 AM »
I'm not sure if this qualifies as an 'Engineering' question ... but, I've been pondering HIMARS in Ukraine and need a reality check.

Background: The ZSU has been making good use of HIMARS in Ukraine. So far, 20 x M142 have been delivered to Ukraine - along with 10 x tracked M270 MLRS (given by the UK and Germany). The US has promised a further 18 x HIMARS but these will not be delivered for several years.

So, not looking US gift horses' in their mouths ... but are there any other options?

Something that struck me is how many relatively low-mileage FMTVs are on offer for sale to civilians as surplus. Some of those surplus vehicles will have been beat overseas, others seem to have been sitting stateside in storage for most of their service lives. With careful selection, could not some of those trucks be weeded out for donation to Ukraine?

I am aware that the M142 chassis for HIMARS has a longer wheelbase than that of a base cargo FMTV. So, my object here is not to light a fire under Lockheed Martin for production conversions. Rather, I'm wondering if a much simplified HIMARS variant might be quickly derived?

My premise is this: Those surplus M1083 FMTVs are roughly analogous to the heavier M142 chassis. Reducing weight would be a priority. Some of the M142's extra ~6 tonnes comes (I assume) from HIMARS' hoist loading mechanisms. That leads to my first question:

Q: Could an M142's rack-mounted 'Six Pack' be safely fired outside of the HIMARS 'box'?

If so, my concept is to mount a single reload 'Six Pack' of GMLRS rockets to an elevating mechanism on the rear of the M1083's cargo deck. (On the attached image, I've used the Ukrainian BM-21 Bastion-1 elevating mechanism.) [1] In contrast with HIMARS' precision front-loading, I am imagining the 'Six Pack' crates simply being slung onto the mount using a rear echelon crane.

The upside would be minimal mods needed for the surplus M1083. [2] The obvious downside is a halved payload compared with the M142. And that brings up the next question:

Q: With current 'shoot-and-scoot' tactics, how often do operational HIMARS fire all twelve missiles? In other words, is having only six rounds actually a major disadvantage?

Any critique this notion (or alternative suggestions) would be most appreciated.

______________________________________________

[1] I'm also aware that the HIMARS 'box' contains various electronic gubbins. Are these to do with targetting?  If so, could such 'black boxes' be cable-connected from a support vehicle?

[2] I've shown the M1083 with a standard FMTV cab (I'm assuming that US doesn't want to give away too many of their Oshkosh Low Signature Armored Cabs (or the LSAC's LM equivalent from the M142). Since the ZSU relies heavily on Starlink, I have plonked one of their mobile antennas on the cab's roof.
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Offline Frank3k

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2022, 01:20:30 AM »
I think getting the HIMARS or MRLS pods in quantity is a bigger issue, but assuming you can order them in bulk from Amazon and the main shortage is the vehicle... The Russians have "donated" a few KamAZ-5350 and you could come up with a way of liberating a good supply. The KamAZ-5350 is similar to the FMTV in specs.

Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2022, 05:20:55 AM »
Thanks for that Frank. Yes, there are a bunch of ex-RU Kamaz 5350s - some of which are already equipped as BM-21 Grad MLRS. I had another reason for zeroing-in on LMTV/FMTV variants (which I'll go into in my Profiles thread).

Ignoring whatever MLRS supply qualms exist in the Biden Administration, I suspect that another issue is that Kyiv is requesting more and more HIMARS just as the US military tries to double its own fleet. Meanwhile, HIMARS orders have come in from Taiwan, Romania, and probably other places. Meanwhile, the DoD seems to be looking for potential future HIMARS suppliers beyond LM Grand Prairie.

Since the ZSU has momentum in the field right now, obviously, Kyiv doesn't want to wait years for supply of new-production HIMARS. But, questions about supply and suppliers makes it tougher to stay within the brief of the Engineering Dept.

I had wondered about the availability of M30 series reloads for Ukraine's HIMARS and M270 MLRS. [1] I suspect that the British Army and Bundeswehr might be able to supply some additional rounds [2] from their M270s ... but that would be a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 5,800 GMLRS rounds per month that the ZSU is firing. In any case, if the US is not in a position to readily supply GMLRS reloads, then the whole question of HIMARS in Ukraine is moot.

Anyway, if LM and/or US quartermasters can't keep pace with M30 GMLRS resupply in wartime, this does not bode well for the US Army, USMC, or foreign customers for HIMARS or the M270.

_________________________________________

[1] The Drive was warning about potential shortages of M30 rounds as far back as July 2022.
-- https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/are-there-enough-guided-rockets-for-himars-to-keep-up-with-ukraine-war-demand

[2] To comply with the CCM, Germany scrapped its M26 rounds (and, I assume, the UK did too). I wonder if that meant just the sub-munitions and their housings. If so, would the rockets themselves have then been converted into M30 and M31 rounds?
« Last Edit: November 25, 2022, 10:09:34 AM by apophenia »
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Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2022, 10:11:10 AM »
After a bit more digging, I've come up with a few more details...

1 - Something in the order of 50,000 x GMLRS rounds have been made so far.

2 - Further GMLRS rounds for HIMARS are included in the latest round of 'lethal aid' for Ukraine,
-- https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/11/23/us-to-send-anti-drone-machine-guns-air-defense-ammunition-to-ukraine/

That aid package also includes Excalibur rounds and "more than 100 light tactical vehicles" (which I assume includes LMTVs).

3 - The AT2 launch packs for HIMARS (and the M270) can be mounted by themselves.

LTV had proposed doing just that as their 'Lightweight LW-MLRS mounted on a Standard Manufacturing Co. 8x8 carrier or a trailer (see attached image).
- https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/m270-mlrs-and-m142-himars-developments.39660/page-2#post-546380

Most of the recent DOD news regarding HIMARS - 21 Oct and 02 Nov - had to do with replenishing US Army stocks rather than further supplies to Ukraine. BTW, I previously mentioned LM Grand Prairie. Actually, HIMARS and GMLRS are made at LM's Camden, Arkansas plant.
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Offline ChernayaAkula

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2022, 10:16:07 AM »
Q: With current 'shoot-and-scoot' tactics, how often do operational HIMARS fire all twelve missiles? In other words, is having only six rounds actually a major disadvantage? <...>

M142 only use six missiles/one pod anyway, so your design isn't a reduction in firepower at all.  :smiley:
There are pics of M142 travelling in Ukraine that clearly show only three missiles having been expended, so it's at least plausible that they don't fire a full pod each time.
Your system's mode of operation doesn't look too different from Elbit's PULS, in that the pod "clips on" and is put in place by an external crane, so it definitely does look plausible.  :smiley:

For additional GMLRS shooters, maybe Korea would be willing to give up a couple of their K329 Chunmoo MLRS. Combines M142 road mobility with M270 12 missile/2pod firepower.
Poland is interested in buying loads (almost 300!) of these. Korea is willing to send Poland some K2 MBTs from its own army stocks ahead of newly-produced tanks. Maybe Korea could send a dozen K239 to Poland early as well? And then some Polish-Ukrainian Lend-Lease....

« Last Edit: November 25, 2022, 10:20:51 AM by ChernayaAkula »
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Offline Kerick

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2022, 12:39:23 PM »
I've always thought the Ukrainians should get some look alike trucks and mount fake HIMARS boxes on them and just drive around confusing the Russians.
I hope someone is looking into manufacturing much more ammunition for the system to supply the Ukrainians and restock our supplies!

Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2022, 04:22:26 AM »
Moritz: Doh! You're right, of course. I was conflating the M142 load with the M270

Ken: Interesting that you should mention driving decoys. I was wondering about the same thing - effectively a fully mobile equivalent to UA's plywood HIMARS decoys (which I assume are essentially static).

I based mine on the seemingly readily-available surplus M1083 FMTV Cargo truck.

A simple box shelter has been plonked onto the cargo deck. I've made that shelter rigid, imagining rear door access for cargo. (Alternatively, the shelter might hinge out of the way for loading/unloading.) I've shown the simplified 'details' on the 'box' mostly as painted on with stencils. I'm thinking that the important aspect is to be convincing to the operator of a fly-over UAV.

Likewise, the 'gap' at the rear of the 'armour cab' is painted on. Side 'appliqué armour' bolts are just decals. Cab window glass is covered with  patterned, see-through perforated vinyl films. The armoured nose is simulated with a screwed-on fibreglass cap (front glass would also feature see-through vinyl).

In rendering this concept, it quickly becomes apparent that the chassis proportions are a bit off for HIMARS. I'm counting on that not being obvious to RU drone operators (who seem to target any cargo FMTV armoured with an LSAC and then claim yet another HIMARS 'kill'!).

Q: Does this concept work visually (at least enough that a moving vehicle would throw off ID)?

Q: Can anyone suggest better role(s) for such decoys (other than modest cargo carrying)?

Q: Should such mods be dedicated decoys?

If 'yes', another questions arises:

Q: For greater mobility for our non-static HIMARS decoy, should the 'box' be inflatable?

If 'no', a different question:

Q: Would making our 'box' able to elevate be of use? ... or just pointless gimickry?

Thanks for all your input folks!  :D
« Last Edit: November 26, 2022, 04:24:13 AM by apophenia »
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Offline Kerick

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2022, 04:38:45 AM »
Just spread some disinformation about Ukraine getting a hold of HIMAR launch boxes and mounting them on trucks then mount the fake boxes on any old semi tractor and drive it all over. I wouldn’t have it deliver cargo as that could reveal actual troop positions or storage sites. Be sure to give that driver extra pay.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2022, 04:39:15 AM »
I should note that both LM-Grand Prarie and LM-Camden are part of their Mission Systems division.

Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2022, 06:52:24 AM »
Just spread some disinformation about Ukraine getting a hold of HIMAR launch boxes and mounting them on trucks then mount the fake boxes on any old semi tractor and drive it all over. I wouldn’t have it deliver cargo as that could reveal actual troop positions or storage sites...

Good point on cargo deliveries. I had wondered about just mounting dummies on semi-trailers too.

I wonder if that is what UA has done with their static plywood models? If if was a twin-axle trailer, you'd just need to mock up front wheels as well as the cab and launch box.

... Be sure to give that driver extra pay.

Absolutely. It would be a terrifying assignment. Mind you, there seems to be no shortage of Ukrainians with stainless-steel tackle!

I should note that both LM-Grand Prarie and LM-Camden are part of their Mission Systems division.

Thanks for that Evan. Any idea if Grand Prairie ever had a major part in HIMARS production/assembly?
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Offline Frank3k

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2022, 09:50:38 AM »
The "world's 2nd army" is led by idiots commanding drunks and morons. Just tow some cardboard HIMARS copies (no need to waste metal or put real people in harms way) and accidentally let the Z boys know where they are. When they send artillery or drones, figure out where they're firing from and use regular artillery or real HIMARS to put them out of their misery.

Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2022, 11:56:38 AM »
Frank: I'm kinda concluding the same thing ... no need to risk drivers - or even waste useful cargo trucks. Instead, I've spun off from Ken's suggestion of using semi-trailers as the base for decoys.

Running with that idea, I've plonked a decoy onto a locally-made VARZ PS-2035 grain trailer. [1] For this, I've stayed with the UA's wooden construction approach. (Cardboard would be fine for one-time use but, let's face it, that Z crowd can't hit most of what they aim for. If the decoy lives to deceive another day, that's yet another RU ship-launched cruise missile wasted.)

I've simplified the lines of the M142 a bit (for easier plywood construction) and removed many details (especially from the lower sides). Probably it could be simplified further still (the UA would know better since their static decoys have been successfully suckering missiles out of the Black Sea Fleet for a while now.

_________________________________________

[1] VARZ (aka OOO Verhnedneprovskiy avtoremontnyy zavod), as the name suggests, is based at Verkhnedneprovsky in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast - about 140 km NNW of Zaporizhzhia. As far as I can tell, the VARZ plant is still operational ... but used PS-2035s (and similar trailers) also pop up on the used market in Ukraine.
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Offline Kerick

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2022, 09:57:42 PM »
The "world's 2nd army" is led by idiots commanding drunks and morons. Just tow some cardboard HIMARS copies (no need to waste metal or put real people in harms way) and accidentally let the Z boys know where they are. When they send artillery or drones, figure out where they're firing from and use regular artillery or real HIMARS to put them out of their misery.

Good point. And since they are firing missiles from ships something with more reach would be very useful.

Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2022, 05:59:25 AM »
The "world's 2nd army" is led by idiots commanding drunks and morons...

"They're not strategists ... though they assume they are, and rather good ones at that. A fully functioning, strategically sound opponent would be a greater threat, but without posing the sort of unpredictable danger they currently do." - William Gibson, Agency, 2020

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Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2022, 05:23:24 AM »
In Reply #2, I was wondering what happened to the withdrawn Bundeswehr M26 cluster munition rockets. And a partial answer to re-use of redundant M26s may have emerged ...

Boeing has submitted a Saab project (joint project?) to the DOD for export to Ukraine. The Ground-Launched Small-Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) simply combines the 250 lb Small Diameter Bomb (complete with pop-out glide wing assembly) via an adaptor to the body of an M26 rocket. Of course, that also means that the formerly unguided M26 now takes advantage of the  SDB's GPS INS.

BTW, the new warhead in question is the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb Increment (SDB I). So, this not intended to strike moving targets (like the later GBU-53/B SDB II). I'm guessing though, that - should IR and ATR be deemed necessary in future - Saab's adaptor collar would readily accommodate the GBU-53/B.

Anyhoo, looks promising (and a clever bit of recycling) ... but not available until the Spring of 2023 at the earliest.

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Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2022, 05:34:48 AM »
Short video from YouTuber Suchomimus' on the proposed Boeing/SAAB GLSDB (Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb):

The US Considers Sending GLSDB to Ukraine -- But What Is It?

(Click on the thumbnail GIF to view at YouTube)
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Offline apophenia

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2022, 05:58:30 AM »
Thanks Jeff! Some interesting comments there too.

Someone was noting a $40k unit cost for GLSDBs (less than half of the GMLRS unit cost). I'm guessing that is because both the M26 rocket and SDB I are both considered Government-Supplied Equipment? (BTW, I hadn't realized that the US has also withdrawn its M26s).

Anyway, GSE + collars/integration = $40k sounds like less of a bargain ... until you remember that both M26 and SDB Is are basically just sitting in warehouses awaiting disposal right now. And that disposal means extra costs too.

Interesting too that, in your linked video, Boeing artwork shows the GLSDB fitted with a GBU-39/B (SDB II) 'warhead'. Moving targets, here we come  :smiley:
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Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: More HIMARS for Ukraine?
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2022, 02:21:17 PM »
Thanks Jeff! Some interesting comments there too.
I have been following that guy at YouTube for a while now.  His content on the RU/UA conflict has been pretty good with just enough analysis to not make it boring (or long-winded). 

Someone was noting a $40k unit cost for GLSDBs (less than half of the GMLRS unit cost). I'm guessing that is because both the M26 rocket and SDB I are both considered Government-Supplied Equipment? (BTW, I hadn't realized that the US has also withdrawn its M26s).
cluster type munitions have fallen out of favour due to the high dud rates of the sub-munitions which I thought could be addressed with a simple self-destruct feature but I suppose that would only apply to those munitions that are intended to function as rocket and artillery delivered scatterable anti-tank land mines.     

Anyway, GSE + collars/integration = $40k sounds like less of a bargain ... until you remember that both M26 and SDB Is are basically just sitting in warehouses awaiting disposal right now. And that disposal means extra costs too.

Interesting too that, in your linked video, Boeing artwork shows the GLSDB fitted with a GBU-39/B (SDB II) 'warhead'. Moving targets, here we come  :smiley:
If I recall correctly, the U.S. Navy developed something similar with the ASROC ASW weapon as a quick fix solution by adapting a 500-pound Mk.82 GP bomb to the ASROC rocket motor for use during the Vietnam conflict for shore bombardment or engagement of surface targets.  The SDB is definitely a step up from this and with the ability to attack the target from behind in some cases really opens up many new opportunities for the MLRS/HIMARS systems to become very effective "one shot - one kill" weapons.   
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