WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- Nine Field Artillery Soldiers here tested the new M57E1 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) Modification (MOD) with a proximity sensor.

Soldiers from Fort Sill, Okla.'s Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment conducted multiple training events that led to the firing of two ATACMS--MOD missiles.

For most Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Soldiers, firing an ATACMS--MOD is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"The desired weapon effects on the targets are unbelievable," said Staff Sgt. Justin Dillon, a Bravo Battery M270A1 launcher chief.

As for the Soldiers of 2nd BN, 18th FA, firing the missile was a first in their careers.

During the event, the Soldiers fired an ATACMS--MOD from each firing platform, which shows their diversity and the extent of the training they received.

This included cross-platform training and updated software for both the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers.

"Not only was it a great experience, but an honor to be part of the testing for the new ATACMS--MOD," said Spec. Talon Tuszynski, a fire direction specialist with Bravo Battery.

The existing ATACMS inventory contains cluster munitions that will expire due to aging and full implementation of the Department of Defense Cluster Munitions Policy.

The Army plans to fill the long range capability gap through the ATACMS Service Life Extension Program, in the near-term, and then with an accelerated Precision Strike Missile program.

According to Capt. Lyle Bushong, test officer with the Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command, the purpose of testing was to fire multiple missiles in various scenarios.

"This event tested the missile's reliability and survivability against multiple threats in a realistic environment," said Bushong.

Bushong also explained how testing the ATACMS--MOD will enable warfighters to gain a more lethal munition and provide the right combat power for commanders.

"The ATACMS--MOD provides an additional option to the current munition and will enable the warfighters to put the right effects on target," he said.

"The ATACMS--MOD will also meet the Department of Defense cluster munition policy and still provide an area affective weapon."

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About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

The U.S. Army Operational Test Command's mission is to make sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Operational tests also provide an added benefit to Soldiers by offering unique training opportunities not always received in standard training environments.