WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration may soon begin shipping to Ukraine several variants of Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), a long-range missile system that often carries varying amounts of cluster bomblets.
The following information relies heavily on U.S. Army presentations and budget data.
– The M39 Block I ATACMS is a guided missile with a range of 25 to 165 km (15 to 100 miles) that carries a payload of 950 anti-personnel and equipment-destroying bomblets. The M39 Block I was added to the U.S. arsenal in 1991 and is no longer in production. There were about 1,650 made with several hundred used in conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Army documents. Remaining units are being modernized to a version what does not contain cluster munitions. The Pentagon says the dud rate – the percentage of distributed munitions that do not explode once deployed – is classified.
– M39A1 Block IA ATACMS is guided in part by GPS and has a range of 70 to 300 km (40 to 190 miles) carrying a payload of 300 M74 bomblets. There were 610 produced with about 74 used in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Army documents. The M39 Block IA joined the U.S. arsenal in 1997 and is no longer in production, with remaining units being modernized to a version that does not contain cluster munitions. The Pentagon says the dud rate is classified. According to a Reuters review of Army documents and budget documents – less than 1,114 M39 and M39A1 warheads remain in stores due to field use and the modification program.
– M48 ATACMS deliver a single, 500-pound (230-kg) high-explosive warhead at a range of 70 to 300 km (40 to 190 miles). The explosion sends hundreds of thousands of fragments across its target area. There were about 176 made with about 55 used in conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Army documents. The M48 joined the U.S. arsenal in 2001.
– ATACMS M57 deliver a single, 500-pound (230-kg) highd-explosive warhead at a range of 70 to 300 km (40 to 190 miles) similar to the M48. There were about 513 made, with about 33 used in conflicts such as Operation Enduring Freedom, according to Army Documents. The M57 debuted in 2004.
– M57A1 has specifications nearly identical to the M57, but the height of the blast can be changed, allowing blast fragments to be disbursed across a larger area.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington;editing by Jonathan Oatis)