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Rocket launchers get wings 
By Army National Guard Spc. Bethany Fehringer, 104th Public Affairs Detachment 

Soldiers of the Colorado Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery tested their new High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Sept. 8, 2012 by loading the system on a C-130, flying to Camp Guernsey, Wyo., and dry-firing the system at a notional target. The dry-fire mission included the entire routine of firing a rocket, but used training pods in lieu of live rockets.  (Army National Guard photo by Spc. Bethany Fehringer/RELEASED)

The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is a weapon prized for its mobility and versatility -- not only on the ground but now also in the air. 

A HIMARS can be flown to almost anywhere in the world, drive off an aircraft ramp, fire up to six rockets, then drive back on to the same plane and fly away as if it were never there.   

This seldom-trained capability of the HIMARS was put into practice by the Colorado Army National Guard Sept. 8.

The 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery conducted the air-mobile operation. Traveling to Camp Guernsey, Wyo., the unit conducted a dry-fire exercise with two HIMARS firing at notional targets. The rocket launchers were transported by two C-130 Hercules aircraft to and from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. The dry-fire mission included the entire routine of firing a rocket, but used training pods in lieu of live rockets.

“The Colorado National Guard hopes to be the first state to conduct a full HIMARS operation including air mobilization and firing live (rockets),” said Lt. Col. Scott Sherman, 3-157th FA commander.

The HIMARS is exceptionally more effective than its predecessors, primarily because of its mobility; the system can be flown or driven to almost any location to fire at a specific target and then simply be moved away as if its rockets came from nowhere.

Although the 3-157th FA didn’t get to fire live rockets, it is one in a very small group of units that have executed this type of operation, said Maj. William Diprofio, 3-157th FA battalion operations officer.

The Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing provided the pilots and crews for the C-130s.

Although the HIMARS was designed to travel in a C-130, the system actually pushes the weight limit of the aircraft, so the operation provided good training for the 165th as opposed to a typical transportation mission, said COARNG 1st Lt. Jeremiah Vandorsten, 3-157th FA battalion training officer.

“What makes this system better than its predecessor is its ability to move itself or be moved to virtually anywhere in the world,” he said.