MGM-52 Lance

The MGM-52 Lance is 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.[4]

MGM-52 Lance
MGM-52 Lance missile on display at White Sands Missile Range Museum, New Mexico, next to M752 Self-Propelled Launcher.
TypeTactical ballistic missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1972–1992
Used byU.S. Army, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and West Germany
Production history
Unit cost~US$800K (1996 dollars)[1]
~US$1.2 million (2018)[2]
No. built2,133[3]
Mass1,285–1,527 kg (2,850–3,367 lbs) depending on warhead[3]
Length6.1m (20 ft)
Diameter56 cm (22 in)
Warhead1 W70 nuclear or M251 high explosive submunitions[3]
Blast yield1–100 kt

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


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.[3]

A Lance battery (two fire units) consisted of two M752 launchers (one missile each) and two M688 auxiliary vehicles (two missiles each), for a total six missiles; the firing rate per unit was approximately three missiles per hour. The launch vehicles were also able to carry and launch the MGR-1 Honest John with a special kit for operational war-zone mission-dependent flexibility.[3]


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 single conventional shaped-charge warhead for penetrating hard targets and for bunker busting or a cluster configuration containing 822 M74 bomblets for anti-personnel and anti-materiel uses. 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.[5]



Former operators

 United States United States Army

 United Kingdom British Army

 Israel Israeli Defence Forces

 Netherlands Royal Netherlands Army

  • 129th Artillery Battalion (1979–1992)

 Belgium Belgian Land Component

  • 3rd Artillery Battalion (1977-1991)

 Italy Italian Army

 Germany 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. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  2. Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2019). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 6 April 2019. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  3. Ripley, Tim. The new illustrated guide to the modern US Army. Salamander Books Ltd. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-86101-671-8.
  4. Healy, Melissa (3 October 1987). "Senate Permits Study for New Tactical Nuclear Missile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  5. "LTV MGM-52 Lance". 17 October 2001.
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