USS Anchorage tests HIMARS during Dawn Blitz 2017

US Marines fired the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) from the flight deck of San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during the joint US Navy-Marines drill Dawn Blitz 2017.

The HIMARS is a weapons system made up of the M142 five-ton chassis vehicle and can carry either a launcher pod of six rockets or one MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

It enables Marines to engage targets within minutes after firing and features a greater range than traditional artillery, allowing smaller units to cover a larger area.

The October 22 demonstration on Anchorage consisted of HIMARS engaging a land-based target with a guided multiple launch rocket system unitary (GMLRS-U).

“We had two training objectives for today’s shoot,” said Army Maj. Adam Ropelewski, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), lead planner for sea-based expeditionary fires. “The first training objective was demonstrating this capability and, second, we wanted to have good effects on the target. We achieved both objectives. We destroyed the target at 70 kilometers while at sea.”

This portion of Dawn Blitz validated the commander’s ability to integrate HIMARS with ships to conduct a sea-based strike.

The shoot was a success from the operator’s perspective as well. “We shot a rocket off Anchorage to validate that we, as HIMARS operators, can shoot off an LPD and successfully hit the target,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Irving, a HIMARS operator assigned to 5th Battalion, 11th Marines.”

Dawn Blitz is a scenario-driven exercise designed to train and integrate Navy and Marine Corps units by providing a training environment where forces plan and execute an amphibious assault, engage in live-fire events and establish expeditionary advanced bases in a land and maritime threat environment to improve naval amphibious core competencies.

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