The MGM-52 Lance was a surface to surface ballistic missile system designed to provide general fire support to the ground troops. Able to use both nuclear and conventional warheads Lance was useful against many types of threats. Rather than a replacement system Lance was to compliment conventional artillery by attacking targets beyond their range. Hostile forces that felt they were safe outside the known range of conventional artillery would be afforded no comforts by the Lance.
Lance had a self-propelled launcher (SPL) that was an amphibious tracked vehicle able to ford all types of terrains. The Loader Transport Vehicle (another configuration of the same tracked vehicle) typically worked in conjunction with the SPL and carried 2 additional Lance missiles and a small crane to reload the SPL. The launch fixture in the SPL could also be removed and towed by trucks are air-lifted by light transport helicopters making Lance extremely mobile. Both of the Lance's vehicles and the launch fixture were all air-transportable by fixed wing air transports.
With the Lance the Army replaced Honest John and the Sergeant ballistic missiles. Unlike the Lacrosse the Lance relied on a self-contained guidance system using the Directional Control Automatic Meteorological (DCAM) Compensation concept. This helped ensure it would reach its intended targets without interference. Previously most other Army missiles used solid propellants but the Lance instead featured prepackaged liquid fuel that eliminated any need for fueling in the field. This is why the Lance had short reaction time allowing it to be launched quickly and when combined with its mobility made it an even more effective deterrent to aggression. In its mission of deterrence the Lance was completely successful having never been fired in anger during its entire operational service life.
Patch of the 5th Battalion, 41st Artillery which was equipped with Lance
Introducing the Lance
Guided Missiles: Theory of Operation: This training film explains the theory and principles of guided missiles, the various missile engines, and how guided missiles are used during the time period the film was made.