UDAIRI RANGE, KUWAIT –
A new artillery warhead is retiring an outdated cluster-bomb round on the battlefields for U.S. Army Central in the Middle East and Southwestern Asia.
The M30A1 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Alternate Warhead was debuted in Kuwait during a test fire exercise recently in the Central Command area of operations. Officials hope the test will help eliminate unwanted casualties in the future.
“Currently, the (Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions) round has a higher-than-acceptable rate potential to leave duds behind,” said Maj. Joshua Szafranski, an operations officer with the 197th Field Artillery Brigade.
Older models of the DPICM munitions contained hundreds of smaller “cluster bomb” explosives that were often left unexploded across the battlefield and creating a danger to civilians. Szafranski, of Hollis, Maine, said the new M30A1 round is being implemented to limit duds by replacing the smaller explosives with 180,000 tungsten steel bee-bee-sized balls.
“This particular round will be effective against light skinned vehicles and personnel,” he said.
The 197th Field Artillery Brigade, based in Manchester, New Hampshire, is credited as the first to test the munitions for USARCENT from a High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System, also known as a HIMARS rocket system, at Udairi Training Range.
The unit shot four separate targets with the new round during two days of tests.
The round is expected to have applications in anti-terrorism operations, such as the fight against the Islamic State known as Operation Inherent Resolve.
During the first test-fire, the 197th FA Brigade combined with 120-millimeter mortar teams from the 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment and Cavalry Scouts in Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment, to create a complete scenario where an enemy convoy was spotted and engaged.
“It’s not like you see in the movies, there is a lot of coordination that goes into this job,” said Sgt. Brent Schriber, a Cavalry Scout with the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment. “You don’t just roll in and blow things up. There are a lot of upper echelon tasks and things that need to be trained on to efficiently effect the fighting.”
Some observers initially thought maybe the rounds had missed because of the lack of structural damage observable from a distance.
Up close, the plastic range silhouettes and vehicles were pierced through from the impact of the flying tungsten projectiles.
“We successfully demonstrated what the capabilities of this new round are,” Szafranski said. “A high explosive round is very impressive because it produces a big bomb and large pieces of shrapnel, but this round is small pellets and covers a much larger area.”
Spc. Nadthapong Wuitsen, 13F forward observer, of Rochester, New Hampshire, from the 197th FA Bde., was the first person to call in a request for the new round in the area of operations.
Forward observers are responsible for putting eyes on the target and calling up both coordinates and the type of round to be fired.
“Calling is the best part of my job because of the explosions,” Wuitsen said. “Being able to call in a location and getting impact and damage on that location is pretty cool.”