MANILA, April 11 (UPI) -- The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, was test-fired in the Philippines for the first time as part of a large-scale joint military exercise in the Pacific island nation.
U.S. Marines from the 4th Marine Regiment fired six non-explosive rounds from a distance of 9 miles using the HIMARS platform on Sunday. The test shots were fired at the Crow Valley gunnery and firing range in Capas, Tarlac in the central Philippines.
Mounted on a five-ton truck, the Lockheed Martin-built HIMARS rocket launcher is able to fire either the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System or MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System and the Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket System according to a company fact sheet.
Entering full-rate production in 2003, the system is currently fielded by both U.S Army and Marine Corps units.
Sunday's test shots were in preparation for the final capstone drills that are part of the annual Balikatan exercises, Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson, Balikatan spokesman for the Philippines, told The Philippine Star.
"It used non-explosive material and is safe," Sayson said, adding that this type of round will be used in the forthcoming capstone exercise scheduled for April 14th.
The six-day training exercise between U.S. and Philippine forces are intended to build up interoperablity and joint operational capabilities between the two militaries. Australian forces are participating this year, and eight nations are observing. The exercise, which end April 15, are being held for the 32nd time.