Self-Propelled Tracked Battlefield Missile Carrier
Developed in the 1970s, the Lance missile carrier was finally declared obsolete in 1992.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Requiring a new tactical missile launcher for the battlefields of the Cold War, the United States military adopted the M752 "Lance" missile system. The vehicle was a tracked, self-propelled unit comprised of the launcher unit itself, the missile section and the resupply vehicle. The unit was made available to some allies of the period as well and remained active from 1972 until 1992.
The MGM-52 Lance missile component of the M752 carrier was manufactured by Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) and carried a warhead developed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The missiles were propelled by a liquid-propellant rocket motor out to ranges of 75 miles at speeds greater than Mach 3.0. An inertial guidance system provided direction and the warhead blast yield of the nuclear warheads measured 100 kilotons. Warheads could also consist of conventional payloads for anti-fortification, anti-tank duty. Over 2,100 missiles were produced and operated by the forces of the United States, Britain, Belgium, Israel, Italy, West Germany and the Netherlands.
The M752 carrier component was born from the M548 carrier family of vehicles. The M548 was developed to a Signal Corps requirement intending to carry the AN/MPQ-32 series counter-battery radar fit but this was not to be. Despite this, the M548 went on to find its value as the basis for several other tracked vehicle systems. Its running gear was based on that of the ubiquitous M113 (M113A1 production model) which permeated the inventories of many Western powers during the Cold War (with many in service even today - 2015).
The M548 went on to form the framework for the M667 vehicle which was then used to create both the M752 missile launcher/carrier as well as its resupply vehicle, the M688. The M667 design was differentiated from the base M548 by its narrower, lower profile cab and given a loading ramp at the rear of the hull as well as suspension locks for stability when loading/unloading its cargo. The M688 carried two missiles and appropriate loading hardware to replenish a spent M752 missile launcher unit. In this way, a single M752 had access to three total missiles in-the-field and were typically deployed in two launcher sets along with two corresponding reload vehicles providing six "ready-to-fire" missiles for the launch crew. Prior to firing, the cab roof was raised over the operator.
Deployment of the Lance missile system was in 1972 and the line succeeded several outdated, outgoing types of similar mission scope then in service with the U.S. Army and Navy branches. It was featured across eight total U.S. Army Field Artillery Regiments with a bulk based in West Germany and some deployed to South Korea. European units were withdrawn from 1987 onwards following the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of December covering medium-ranged launched weapons (conventional and nuclear tipped) with a reach of 300 miles to 3,400 miles.
The M752 Lance and its missile were replaced in U.S. service by the M720 MLRS (Multiple Launcher Rocket System) and M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) vehicle lines, the former tracked (using the M2 Bradley chassis) and the latter 6x6 wheeled.