Following the US’s decision to send its High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine, the United Kingdom is also stepping up to the plate and sending its M270 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukraine. This comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly pleaded to the world for heavier offensive weapons amidst heavy Russian shelling in the east.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced the decision last June 6. According to them, the M270 can strike targets up to 50 miles away with pinpoint accuracy, which gives Ukraine an advantage on the field as Russia is known to use unguided munitions amidst reports of them having a low supply of precision guided-munitions.

“The UK stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country from unprovoked invasion. If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win,” Wallace said.

“As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities,” he continued.

A British MLRS in Otterburn Ranges in the North of England as part of a military training exercise (Cpl Jamie Peters RLC, OGL v1.0OGL v1.0, via Wikimedia Commons). Source:
A British MLRS in Otterburn Ranges in the North of England as part of a military training exercise (Cpl Jamie Peters RLC, OGL v1.0OGL v1.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

The UK has notably worked with one of its oldest allies, the United States, on sending these weapon systems to Ukraine. SOFREP previously reported that the US had been assessing whether it should give the wheeled M142 HIMARS or the M270 self-propelled multiple rocket launcher. With the US notably sending the four HIMARS to Ukraine as part of its new $700 million military assistance package, the UK will send the M270 as well, providing another closely cooperated assistance to Kyiv.

It’s not like the US did not know the British were going to send the M270; this was likely discussed behind closed doors. The United Kingdom asked the US to sign off on the sending of the M270 MLRS as it is US-made, and this would need the approval of the US to transfer due to export regulations.

It’s important to note that the two systems are very similar, just that the HIMARS is a wheeled version of the M270 and has a farther range depending on what missile or rocket it is equipped with. Mobility is the name of the game in Ukraine, so it is best that they are equipped with systems that can move quickly to avoid being targeted by Russian artillery and air strikes. The Russians have armed drones as well that can damage these weapon systems, so the Ukrainians must be vigilant enough to spot and destroy them before they can do any damage.

The MLRS is fairly mobile, but with tracks, it does move slower. While its tracks give it increased mobility in rough terrain it comes with the trade-off of taking longer to salvo all its missiles and taking longer to reload.  This means it is more vulnerable to counter-battery fire from Russia. The HIMARS can move some 50 miles per hour, allowing it to get in and out of places quicker. The MLRS, however, can launch 12 rockets in one go, with the HIMARS only firing six at a time.