MGM-52 Lance missile system

The MGM-52 Lance Short Range Battlefield tactical support missile system was first designed in the 1960s by the Vought Corporation. Design took place in 1962 with the development contract being placed in 1963, first test firing in March 1965. Problems with the rocket engine delayed delivery until 1971 with the first units being issued to the US Army for service trials then and the first units going operational in April 1972. The weapon was designed to provide nuclear fire support at Corps level and the US Army had at one point 8 battalions in service. The Lance also replaced the Honest John short range missile in several NATO armies including West Germany, UK, Italy and Israel; in these countries the missiles were operated locally while the nuclear warheads remained under US control.

The weapon had a two part concentric pre packed liquid propellant motor with the outer system providing initial thrust at which point the weapon was still under control of the onboard inertial guidance system. Once cruise speed is achieved the inner propulsion system takes over until it shuts down as the weapon glides in on its terminal trajectory. The lance was carried on two variants of the M113 APC, the M752 being the erector launcher and the M688 carrying 2 missile reloads and a loading host. A single use light weight launcher was also developed to be dropped by helicopter or by a parachute into the front lines if needed to provide rapid support. The original warhead had options to carry the standard NATO 467 lb 10 to 100 kiloton warhead, a ½ kiloton neutron warhead was also developed (an anti personal rather than anti material weapon). The Israeli version carried a M251 cluster warhead which drops 836 submuntions on the target each weighing less than 1lb covering an area 820 meters (900 yds) in diameter, the main target was to be air defences.

Length: 6.17m (20ft 3 in).
Weight: 1530kg (3,373lbs) nuclear warhead. 1778kg (3,920lbs) conventional warhead.
Range: 4.8km (3 miles) minimum. 121km (75 miles) maximum (reduced by 7 miles if using conventional warhead.
CEP: 455m (500 yds)

How to cite this article:Dugdale-Pointon, T. (3 May 2008), MGM-52 Lance missile system, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_MGM-52_Lance.html

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