As part of the Vostochny Shchit exercise, which took place in September of 2016 in Japan, mortar crews of the American army conducted firing from a battalion mortar M120
In connection with the transformation of the modern operational space, the mortar market has recently experienced an unprecedented revival.
Increased in recent years, Russian activity in Eastern Europe and ongoing operations in the Middle East against the Islamic state (prohibited in Russia) and its branches created conditions for a kind of revival and increased interest in mortar technology and their application in the modern operational space.
The armed forces, industry and academia are currently focused, among other things, on the development and deployment of mobile mortar systems in order to meet the current needs for maneuverable combat operations, as well as high-precision guided munitions necessary for the troops to accurately neutralize targets that are often hidden in combat space crowded to the same local civilian population.
The entry of Crimea into Russia in 2014 again raised the degree of tension in Eastern Europe, and the NATO countries and alliance partners are now actively undertaking the design and development of defense technologies so that they have something to counter the broad list of weapons available to the Russian armed forces.
Russian opportunities, in particular, were presented at the exhibition of special operations forces SOFEX, held in the capital of Jordan, Amman, in May 2016. Rosoboronexport presented various systems of armament on it, starting from the silent, portable 82-mm mortar on the 2B25 Gall baseplate and ending with self-propelled artillery guns (SAO) on the NNA-SVK (battle formation), which was designed by the battlefield, which was in charge of the battleframe, which was in charge of the battleframe of the battlefield, which was in charge of the battleframe; SAO 2X23 “Vienna” on the BMP-80 chassis, both guns with 2-mm mortars.
120-mm battalion self-propelled artillery gun based on the chassis of a floating wheeled armored personnel carrier BTR-80
120-mm self-propelled artillery gun on the BMP-3 chassis
According to official data, the portable mortar 2B25 has the maximum range of 1200 meters and the maximum rate of fire to 15 rounds per minute. The mortar complex has a total weight of 13 kg, that is, in combat conditions, it can carry a calculation of two people, one actually the mortar, and the second ammunition to it.
Russian noiseless wearable 2B25 "Gall" mortar
Mobile mortar platforms, such as the 2C23, with installed 120-mm guns have a maximum range of almost 9 km, depending on the propellant charge used. However, sources at Rosoboronexport stated that these projectiles could fly to 12,8 km when upgraded with an additional rocket booster. Ammunition, including anti-tank variants, can destroy both lightly armored vehicles and unarmored platforms.
The SAO 2X31 “Vienna” is equipped with a 2A80 rifled mortar, which has a stated range of 18 km. This production platform of PJSC Motovilikha Plants can fire at a NATO standard ammunition with an 10 rate of fire per minute.
The already mentioned demonstration by Russia of its forces on the Eastern European borders, as a result, provoked a response from its neighbors, now the Polish and Ukrainian armed forces (and not only they) are actively seeking to modernize their capabilities in this region.
At an exhibition in Paris in June 2016, a member of the Polish defense group, the company Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW), presented the self-propelled mortar complex M120K, intended for the Polish army.
The M120K chassis has an 120-mm mortar of official loading, an ammunition of 20 shots is transported in the turret, and there is a place in the body to accommodate 26 mortar shots. The digital fire control system (LMS) as part of the on-board information management system allows the gunner to tie weapons to the GPS system, the odometer and the Talin inertial navigation system and thereby improve the accuracy of firing.
According to HSW, the M120K mortar has a maximum range of 7 km, which can be increased to 10 km using extended range ammunition. M120K has a rate of fire from 5 to 10 rounds per minute.
According to sources in the Polish Ministry of Defense, in April it submitted to the government a plan for the purchase of 96 mortar complexes for arming the army in accordance with a five-year contract worth up to 375 million dollars. This contract includes the supply of 64 120-mm self-propelled mortar installations M120K Rak plus 32 control center also based on the Rosomak 8x8 chassis.
Self-propelled mortar installation M120K Rak based on Rosomak chassis 8x8
Mortar platoons of the Polish army will receive four M120K vehicles and one vehicle in the control station version, and two additional control points will be assigned to the company headquarters. Some of the vehicles are expected to be supplied to the Polish army by the end of 2016, and the remaining vehicles will be delivered in the next four years.
In March, 2016 of the platform successfully completed troop tests, which would allow the army to begin the planned replacement of existing 120-mm self-propelled howitzers 2S1, 2S1M and 2S1T “Gozdzik” (the Polish version of Topaz LMS, most of which are also based on the same as the basis, as well, are based on the same pattern, as in the United States, are based on the same pattern, and they are using the same pattern, as in the case, they are based on the cards, they are based on the cards, and they are used. 8x8.
Ukraine, also preoccupied with Russian aggressive policy, has developed the 120-mm self-propelled mortar complex BTR-3M2, both for equipping its armed forces and for selling abroad. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the mass production of an armored personnel carrier, designed and developed by Ukroboronprom, began in May of this year.
Ukrainian self-propelled mortar BTR-3M2
In August 2016, Roman Romanov, CEO of Ukroboronprom, said that the two BTR-3M2 platforms will be supplied to the Ukrainian army for evaluation tests. Based on the floating BTR-3E1, the BTR-3M2 armored personnel carrier has a hatch cut out on the roof, which is opened for firing from a smooth-bore mortar of muzzle loading. The machine has an auxiliary weapon in the form of 12,7-mm machine gun.
However, Ukroboronprom offers for interested foreign customers also a platform with an 81-mm mortar. The question of the supply of such systems of the Ukrainian army and the National Guard.
RUAG Defense at the Eurosatory 2016 exhibition in Paris presented the 120-mm Cobra mortar set for mobile platforms
Meanwhile, RUAG Defense did not miss the opportunity to present an 2016-mm Cobra mortar set designed for installation on self-propelled platforms at Eurosatory in June 120, at the same time news about the contract for the supply of this system to the Swiss military. According to General Dynamics European Land Systems, Cobra 120-mm smooth-bore mortars were already installed on MOWAG Piranha 3 + armored personnel carriers in May for an initial testing and evaluation program.
In June, the Swiss army unveiled its plans to prepare a contract with RUAG Defense for the manufacture of approximately 32 mortar complexes for their installation on vehicles. As in the case of the Ukrainian armored personnel carrier BTR-3M2, the Cobra mortar fires through the hatches on the roof.
The representative of the company RUAG spoke about the various systems that provide optimal performance, accuracy and rate of fire when installed on both wheeled and tracked platforms. Among them are vertical and horizontal electric drives from Moog, a fire control system and an inertial measurement unit.
“The Cobra mortar complex can be monitored quickly and accurately,” he explained. - Automatic system tuning and charging ensure compatibility with 120-mm ammunition, while the drive makes the system fairly accurate. The ballistic computer allows firing in MRSI mode (multiple rounds / simultaneous impact - simultaneous strike of several projectiles; the angle of inclination of the barrel changes and all projectiles fired at a certain time interval arrive at the target simultaneously). ”
With a maximum range of 9 km, the Cobra mortar complex has the ability to install barrels of 160 cm length or 200 cm. See the total weight of the system is 1350 kg, including the loading system, while the rollback forces of the complex are 30 tons. After taking a position, the mortar can shoot off the first mine in 60 seconds, and after shooting several shells, the machine can quickly withdraw from the position before the enemy can return fire at it.
In the Middle East, the Israeli military industry continues to delight us with solutions for the armed forces seeking to obtain high-precision mobile mortar systems. A spokesperson for Elbit Systems said its solutions range from tactical infantry systems of 60 mm and 81 mm calibers for special operations forces and commandos (sabotage reconnaissance units) and to larger systems of mm 81 mm and 120 mm with recoil systems, including Cardom and Spear mortar families.
According to Aaron Arothas, director of the mortar systems and ammunition department at Elbit Systems, these capabilities are best suited for “pocket artillery” because it is clear that the military now needs more mobile and rapidly deployable solutions throughout the rapidly developing combat space.
"Light mortars of our company are effective weapons support for near, middle, long-range and ultra-long-range fire, which makes them an ideal weapon for special forces, commandos and infantry battalions, ”said Arothas, describing how these systems are controlled by means of a manual SLA.
“The Cardom complex includes either 81-mm or 120-mm self-propelled sliding mortar, which can be mounted on both wheeled and tracked BTR and BMP. At the same time, the end user receives a system with high tactical mobility, operational flexibility and survivability, which can fire across the entire required area. "
This mortar complex includes an integrated fire control system and a battle control system, allowing shooters and commanders to carry out the order of fire destruction, as well as establish communications with advanced observers, advanced aviation gunners and other reconnaissance and surveillance teams.
The length of the Cardom mortar barrel is 1,62 meters, the maximum range of the 7 km system, according to Arothas, meets the operational needs of the Israeli army.
Integration of weapons
This weapon system, which has a firing rate of up to 16 per minute, has already been installed on several vehicles, including the M113 tracked armored personnel carriers of the Israeli army and the Stryker BMP from General Dynamics as part of the concept of the American special forces 81-mm advanced mortar fire control system EMTAS ( Enhanced Mortar Targeting System). According to the Counter-Terrorism Support Administration, the EMTAS program was run by the Elbit and Praevius Group companies to resolve the critical inequality of opportunities, which was to enable existing 81-mm and 120-mm mortars to fire from closed firing positions to all 360 °
In support of the multinational operations team for special operations in Afghanistan, as well as in other, non-disclosed areas of operations, a total of EMTAS 29 systems were deployed to provide existing advanced groups with "accurate kinetic capabilities."
The system can be deployed within a minute, while the transfer to the captured target is less than 25 seconds. Pointing accuracy is less than 3 mil, while with the EMTAS system the rate of fire can reach 10 shots per minute.
In accordance with future plans, the EMTAS system can be installed on LAV-M armored vehicles of the Marine Corps, as well as reconnaissance vehicles of special operations forces.
According to Mr. Arothas, Elbit Systems quickly responded to new customer needs for lighter mortar systems with lower recoil forces installed on light machines. She developed the Spear Mk II mortar complex, a contract for which was signed with an unnamed foreign customer.
Mortar shot LG2MK from Elbit has an increased tail, allowing you to optimize stability in flight, as well as a mechanical fuse
This mortar can be mounted on "any widespread tactical machine" using standard fasteners. For example, a mortar was installed on the VAMTAC and TATA platforms.
From the very beginning, the Spear 120-mm mortar complex was developed for installation on light tactical armored vehicles of the type HMMWV, it has a self-regulating system for reducing recoil forces. Able to shoot 12 shells per minute, Spear Mk II shows a rather modest circular deviation of 30 meters.
A smooth-bore weapon system of muzzle loading is mounted on a turntable and can be integrated into light wheeled platforms, including non-standard commercial vehicles that can be transported inside the cabin or on a helicopter suspension. The mortar also has an inbuilt OMS.
However, Elbit Systems also recognizes the need of the armed forces for even greater accuracy in order to reduce indirect losses, especially related to hostilities in populated areas.
Describing how the requirements for a combat mission remain essential for any operation carried out in a modern operational space, Arothas noted that Elbit entered this specific market in response to customer requirements to hit moving targets with a single controlled mortar while simultaneously reducing the cost and volume of material -technical supply.
Arothas noted that current market trends are in guaranteed defeat of a target with fewer shells. As an example, he cited the LG2MK mortar shot. This Elbit projectile has an enlarged tail that allows you to optimize stability in flight, as well as a mechanical fuse. At the same time, in order to increase the efficiency and accelerate detonation, it can be replaced with an electronic fuse, as well as other types of fuses, which will allow shooters to accurately adjust to the parameters of the combat mission.
“In the future, we will see a“ universal fuse ”capable of retuning under shock detonation, with a delay or a distance, as well as changing the response time in lighting mines, said Arothas. - The army is less willing to use artillery because of the risk of indirect losses, especially in urban areas. Therefore, the mortar is becoming increasingly important. "
Kits for converting standard 120-mm mortar ammunition to a new LG2MK mine may be used, although Elbit could not provide additional information due to the secrecy of the topic.
Elbit Systems presents its 120-mm mortar Soltam Spear Mk II with wheel chocks at various exhibitions.
The US Army Command for Contracting continues to work out options as part of the 120-mm controlled HEGM (High Explosive Guided Mortar) high-explosive fragmentation mortar program, which will be subject to competitive selection in June-August 2017.
According to the US Army, a notice of the search for applicants was first issued for industrial enterprises in April 2015, and later, in December of the same year, the so-called “Industry Days” were held at the state enterprise Arsenal Picatinny, the purpose of which was to obtain the necessary technical support for the program. information.
According to the latest information published in July of this year, the US Army is conducting a market study with the aim of continuing the HEGM project as part of a larger project to develop modern tools for making passes and making gaps.
"The command of the US Army on the conclusion of contracts seeks to provide support in the development of tools for making passages in the proposed minefields in support of dispersed patrol operations," - said the representative of the command.
“We are conducting an advanced search for technological solutions, developed or already developed, to create safe paths of passage in a prospective minefield on various types of soil,” he continued.
“Traditionally, a cord pyrotechnic charge was used to create a more or less safe path along which soldiers could cross a minefield. Corded charge is used as a carrier for transferring devices that create a detonating effect after a certain point in time. These devices with a specified sequence can be of high or low power. ”
“The contract command is open to various technologies and methods that are not related to cord string charges, in order to fulfill the ultimate goal of making a passage. Technologies such as directional energy, electrostatic discharge, pulsed power explosive systems, explosive / kinetic effects, and other methods with different levels of maturity are also welcome, ”he added.
In response to the needs of the military, which is addressed, including the already mentioned HEGM program, the American company Orbital ATK is developing its own high-precision mortar system, named Scorpion. At the Eurosatory 2016, a representative from Orbital ATK explained that the Scorpion includes the XM395 munition version - an 120-mm projectile intended for the US Army as part of its accelerated Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative.
Preparing to shoot high-precision XM395 mortar ammunition during exercises at Fort Campbell
“XM395 gives combat commanders the ability to conduct high-precision indirect fire to neutralize targets on backward slopes, in narrow trenches, on built-up areas and other difficult terrain, where they are difficult to smoke with projectiles with low trajectories,” he said. “In addition, increased accuracy allows the commander to hit quick-passing targets with a greater likelihood and reduces the number of projectiles needed to successfully neutralize targets.”
The principle of operation of the XM395 mortar kit is similar to the principle of the Precision Guidance Kit high-precision guidance kit, designed to equip 155-mm artillery ammunition. It includes a GPS guidance system along with control surfaces. Compatible with all smooth-bore mortar barrels, the kit can be used to retrofit existing projectiles and replace existing fuses, including the M933 and M934 mines.
The Swiss company Saab Bofors Dynamics Switzerland (SBDS) acquired the business of Ruag Warheads in 2007, which developed numerous technologies and products in the field of mortar ammunition, including MAPAM (Mortar Anti Personnel Anti Material) mortar shells. The MAPAM technology is as follows: the shell of the projectile is filled with a polymeric binder with 2500 steel balls, which have the same speed when flying and whose dispersion mainly occurs in height, which increases mortality and reduces associated losses. The outer casing adds approximately 1000 shards to the balls. The 60-mm projectile, which at the time of the acquisition of the business was fully qualified, retained the design and weighs 1545 grams without a fuse, while the length without a fuse is 304 mm. The mine is filled with 254 grams of Composite B or the low-sensitivity explosive PBXN-110, the minimum range is 100 meters, whereas with the 4 modular charge it can reach the range 3500 meters. Mina MAPAM 60 has a radius of solid destruction of 20 meters, a danger zone with a radius of 100 meters, and the stated radius of absolute security is 370 meters. SBDS claims a 2.5: 1 mortality ratio compared to standard 60-mm projectiles. MAPAM 60 is currently in service with Malaysia, Denmark, Belgium and Spain.
A representative of the Malaysian army said, for example, that such ammunition is used in counterinsurgency operations on islands in the Sulu Sea.
MAPAM Mortar Ammunition Family (top); fire this projectile (below)
According to a Saab company representative, MAPAM technology gives the armed forces "melee capabilities with excellent impact in controlled areas while reducing unintentional damage and increasing the security of their forces."
At the request of an unnamed customer (understandably associated with special operations), SBDS developed a version of its extended range 60-mm projectile, the MAPAM 60 ER, which is one kilometer longer than the range of a standard projectile. This was achieved by adding a longer tail while maintaining the length of the hull. The elongated rear element allowed not only to add twice as much charge, thereby increasing the range, but also to increase stability in flight. The length of the projectile was 328,5 mm, while the mass increased slightly, only 21 grams. Fuse options include MZ95A1, M9815C7, DM111, PDB333 and L3, each of which can be integrated with an explosive charge of 254 gram.
The 81-mm version has a maximum range of 5,5 km, with options with an increased range available, although the company does not give these numbers.