French happy with multiple rocket launcher performance in Mali


French forces in Mali are happy with the performance of its Unitary Rocket Launcher (URL) variant of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), which it deployed to Mali for three months to support the Barkhane Force it has deployed there.

Between February 14 and May 16, 2016, three Unitary Rocket Launchers were deployed to Tessalit in northern Mali. They fired 18 rounds, which proved their effectiveness by hitting logistics installations of the Groupes Armés Terroristes (armed terrorist groups, or GAT) located in the Adrar des Ifoghas region, the French Defence Staff said on 21 June.

Delivered in 2014 to the 1st artillery regiment, the use in Mali marked the first time the Unitary Rocket Launcher (LRU in French) has been deployed on overseas operations. In three months, all of the different firing patterns were used (vertical or oblique shot, with fused, impact or retarded warhead explosion) with a total of 18 rockets fired at distances of 50 km to 71 km. All 18 rockets hit their target.

The latest artillery weapon system produced for the French Army, the LRU brought enhanced fire support capabilities to the Barkhane Force, providing direct support to troops engaged on the ground, especially in mountainous areas, the French military said.

Capable of firing a rocket with 90 kg of explosives up to a maximum range of 84 km, the LRU can deliver long-distance fire support with an accuracy of four meters, by day and night, and whatever the weather.

The LRU use in Mali allowed the French Army to validate the system and will now use it alongside other fire support systems such as 120mm mortars that can fire at ranges of up to 15 km; the CAESAR wheeled self-propelled gun, a howitzer that fires 155 mm shells with a range of up to 40 km; attack helicopters; and air support provided by combat aircraft, whose versatility allows the use of bombs from 250 to 1000 kg.

The LRU deployment in northern Mali involved transporting the system via ship to Abidjan, transit by road to Gao, and self-deployment to Tessalit, this last leg having comprised the crossing of almost 1200 km of desert.

The LRU’s crew consists of three people: commander, driver and console operator-gunner. When used, the LRU is accompanied by a command team, a long-range transmission team, a reconnaissance team and a support group, or about 30 people in total.