MGM-52 Lance

MGM-52 Lance

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 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.


The Lance missile was removed from service following the end of the Cold War and was partially replaced in the conventional role by the MGM-140 ATACMS.[4]



Map with former MGM-52 operators in red

Former operators

 United States United States Army

 United Kingdom British Army

 Israel Israeli Defence Forces

 Netherlands Royal Netherlands Army

 Belgium Belgian Land Component

 Italy Italian Army

 Germany German Army

See also


  1. "Lance Missile (MGM-52C)". U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. August 1998. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ripley, Tim. The new illustrated guide to the modern US Army. Salamander Books Ltd. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-86101-671-8.
  3. Healy, Melissa (3 October 1987). "Senate Permits Study for New Tactical Nuclear Missile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  4. "LTV MGM-52 Lance". Designation Systems. 92001. Check date values in: |date= (help)
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