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.
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.
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 shape-charged 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.
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