MGM-52 Lance

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MGM-52 Lance
MGM-52 Lance.jpg
MGM-52 Lance missile on display at White Sands Missile Range Museum, New Mexico, next to M752 Self-Propelled Launcher.
Type Tactical ballistic missile
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1972–1992
Used by U.S. Army, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and West Germany
Production history
Manufacturer LTV
Unit cost ~US$800K (1996 dollars)[1]
Number built 2,133[2]
Weight 1,285–1,527 kg (2,850–3,367 lbs) depending on warhead[2]
Length 6.1m (20 ft)
Diameter 56 cm (22 in)
Warhead 1 W70 nuclear or M251 high explosive submunitions[2]
Blast yield 1–100 kt

Engine Liquid-propellant rocket
70 km (45 mi) to 120 km (75 mi), depending on warhead[2]
Speed >Mach 3
inertial guidance

The MGM-52 Lance was a mobile field artillery tactical surface-to-surface missile (tactical ballistic missile) system used to provide both nuclear and conventional fire support to the United States Army. The missile's warhead was developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It was replaced by MGM-140 ATACMS, which was initially intended to likewise have a nuclear capability during the cold war.[3]


The first Lance missiles were deployed in 1972, replacing (together with the US-Navy's nuclear-tipped RIM-2D & RIM-8E/B/D) the earlier Honest John rocket and Sergeant SRBM ballistic missile, greatly reducing the weight and bulk of the system, while improving both accuracy and mobility.[2]

A Lance battery (two fire units) consisted of two M752 launchers (one missile each) and two M688 auxiliary vehicle (two missiles each),[2] for a total six missiles. The firing rate per unit was approximately three missiles per hour.


The payload consisted either of a W70 nuclear warhead with a yield of 1–100 kt or a variety of conventional munitions. The W70-3 nuclear warhead version was one of the first warheads to be battlefield-ready with an "enhanced radiation" (neutron bomb) capability. Conventional munitions included cluster bombs for use against SAM-Sites, heat seeking Anti-Tank Cluster munitions[citation needed] or a single unitary conventional shape-charged warhead for penetrating hard targets and for bunker busting. The original design considered a chemical weapon warhead option, but this development was cancelled in 1970.


With the signing of the INF Treaty in 1987, the United States Army began withdrawing Lance missiles from Europe. By 1992, all United States Army Lance warheads were in storage awaiting destruction. Following its deactivation, surplus rockets were retained to be used as targets for anti-missile systems.



Map with former MGM-52 operators in red

Former operators

 United States

 United Kingdom






  • German Army
    • 150th Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • 250th Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • 350th Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • 650th Rocket Artillery Battalion

See also


  1. "Lance Missile (MGM-52C)". U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. August 1998. Retrieved October 11, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Ripley, Tim. The new illustrated guide to the modern US Army. Salamander Books Ltd. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-86101-671-8. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Healy, Melissa (October 3, 1987). "Senate Permits Study for New Tactical Nuclear Missile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links