Defence Analysis Resource Centre

Rocket vs. artillery: The debate continues...

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Tags:   artillery

Today I believe that there is very little difference between the effectiveness of rockets and conventional artillery.

For example, take Archer, the mobile Artillery vehicle, and Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (MRLS). Both are capable of finding a suitable firing point, setting up quickly, releasing an accurate and concentrated payload over a period of time and then dispersing from the area before being detected and hit with counter fire.

At this point it is worth considering the two systems side-by-side, looking at the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Given the analysis above I believe that artillery and rocket systems have two very different purposes on the contemporary battlefield.

The Rocket system is slightly more versatile given that it can engage air targets and incoming munitions; also, a larger rocket can have more range and impact than a shell as there is a limit to the effective size of an artillery shell.

The rocket is therefore a useful multi-role platform, capable not only of ground bombardment but of hitting air targets and incoming munitions.

The artillery systems, however, are far better at providing sustained fire onto a ground target, and particularly when used in larger numbers field guns can have a devastating impact with their fire slowly grinding down the will of an enemy.

Given recent technological leaps with regards to aiming devices and Self Propelled artillery vehicles I believe that the accuracy of artillery pieces today is such that they do not require highly expensive rounds.

If a commander needs a vehicle capable of defending itself from air threats to quickly deploy, firing off one or two harassing volleys and then dispersing the rocket system can be an effective launch pad. However, if the mission is to quickly take up a position (supported by other units for air defence etc) to fire effectively for a continued period of time with maximum impact then the artillery system is far better suited.

Both systems clearly have advantages and disadvantages. Like any weapons system they must be deployed for the tasks most suited to them.


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Dave Taylor Contributor: Dave Taylor




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