The Corps has been experimenting with an innovative slew of ways to use its rocket precision artillery system known as HIMARS.
And just recently, the Corps set another historic milestone: destroying a target by connecting an F-35B with a HIMARS rocket shot for the first time, according to Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, deputy commandant for aviation.
“We were able to connect the F-35 to a HIMARS, to a rocket shot … and we were able to target a particular conex box,” Rudder told audience members Friday at an aviation readiness discussion at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, or CSIS.
The shot was all done through data link, according to Rudder. The F-35 used sensors and pushed data about the location of the target that was then fed to a HIMARS system.
The HIMARS unit then destroyed the target.
It’s all about “sensor to shooter,” Rudder said.
The historic shot was carried out at the Corps’ latest weapons and tactics course out in Yuma, Arizona, according to Rudder.
But, the Corps has been highly innovative with its HIMARS system and has been sinking a pretty hefty investment into its rocket artillery.
Last fall, the Corps successfully fired and destroyed a target 70 km out on land from the deck of the amphibious transport dock Anchorage.
And in March, Marines with Kilo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment practiced a rapid air to ground touchdown HIMARS shot.
The Kilo battery Marines strapped the HIMARS down in the belly of an Air Force MC-130 on its way to Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah.
When the aircraft landed the Marines rolled the HIMARS out, fired a total of four shots at two targets and then returned to the aircraft and flew back to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The exercise showcased the Corps ability to rapidly move the HIMARS by air and destroy a target once landing. A tactic that could prove deadly in the expanse of the Pacific where Marines will be fighting as a distributed force across ships, island and barges.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.