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With the war in Ukraine and the associated refocusing of many armed forces on national and alliance defense automatically required for this purpose weapon systems the subject of modernization efforts of the armed forces. Consequently, the industry has dealt with it used the time since 2015 to develop weapons systems such as combat and armored personnel carriers, artillery and mortar and prepare for future challenges. In the field of weapons systems there was mortar to recently some interesting innovations.

The future mortar trains infantry

The new capability profile of the Bundeswehr determined that will take place on association and major unit level reclassifications. The structure of individual trains will be adjusted, and the mortar lines of infantry.

At international forums and symposiums was repeated to hear that the number of mortar trains will double the number of weapons systems but remains the same. In future, a heavy infantry company from which an give it expected in the future in the Infantry Battalion 291 (Illkirchen, France), have two trains, each with four 120-mm mortar systems, currently the company has a train with eight tubes. 1. The train is performed by an officer and will turn personal stronger than the second train, which is guided by a Sergeant. Both trains will have in the future on reconnaissance teams, which take over part of the responsibilities of the current aiming circle squads. The mortar team will continue to consist of squad leader, gunner, loader and ammunition Sagittarius. The special feature of the first train that the additional staff will be used to set up four 60-mm-squads in the basic outline will be. Thus, the first train via eight mortar team (four 120 mm and four 60 mm) is equipped. And the second train will be equipped with four 60 mm systems, but use them in secondary function in parallel with the "120s".

60 mm mortar

The introduced to the middle of the decade modernizing efforts of the Federal Armed Forces in the range modernization of old stocks mortar ammunition 120 mm and the introduction of a 60 mm mortar (ES & T 9/2016) Have been delayed for various reasons over again.

The Bundeswehr plans to procure a total of 159 mortar systems and about 25,000 cartridges as original equipment in the caliber of 60 mm. Integration of the "60" in the composite Forces Joint Tactical Fire Support (STF) is not planned according to current knowledge.

the 60-mm mortar to be procured in two different versions for different applications of individual users:

  • expected 122 convertible mortar on bipod, which must be convertible to a command mortar (. total weight up to 25 kg range of 100 m to 3,500 m)
  • Expected 37 command mortar (. total weight up to 8 kg range of 100 m to 1500 m)

According to reports, have now both EXPAL, Hirtenberger and Rheinmetall 60 mm weapon systems delivered to the armed forces, which are currently being tested in Meppen at WTD 91st

Mortar 120 mm

The current exercise mode is greatly disturbed by the unreliability of the old and stored ammunition and the resulting closures of individual loads and types of ammunition. Here, too, reported ES & T in detail in July 2018, After several years of delay Hirtenberger Defense Europe has recently been awarded the contract for the refurbishment of old stocks of 120-mm ammunition. The five-year contract stipulates that the company in 2026 processed up to 70,000 mortar rounds. exchanged the propellant cartridge base charge and the propellant charges of the currently stored ammunition. According Hirtenberger the ammunition is delivered in the state ready for use. The current limitations of the ammunition would be obsolete.

In addition to the modernization of ammunition for shooting accidents early 2019 a modification of the blocked Approximation detonator PPD 324 tendered. After modification, the igniter should be used only in its second function as an impact fuse. Well informed by circles that Muni Berka GmbH, a specialist in ammunition elimination from the South Harz, awarded the contract, the entire existence of the Bundeswehr to PPD 324 detonators has to be modified.

In addition to the ammunition, the mortar systems are also currently in use have a need for modernization. The weapons systems have a useful life end of 2030, the vehicles but already in 2025 (M113) and 2027 (Wolf). The modernization is intended by the initiative "Future Indirect Fire System Short range" be realized. For this, the future mortar should have the following characteristics: same weapon system for each branch of the infantry, automated positioning and establishment of the weapon system, ability to vehicle-based applications, qualified for dismounted use and up to eight kilometer range.

The integration of the mortar to be made in the vehicles of the respective branch of service. In the airborne troops it would be the "airborne platform" (project name for the successor of mung) in which Jägertruppe a protected wheeled vehicle comparable to the GTK Boxer and in the Gebirgstruppe Hägglunds BV 206 or its successor.

Developments in the industry

The initiated and planned modernization efforts of the mortar systems in the armed forces have, as expected technological developments on the part of European industry. Some of them were recently presented at the international arms trade DSEI in London.

eCompaX weighs about 1.2 kg and 175x75x65 mm. (Photo: EXPAL)

EXPAL

EXPAL, a holistic provider of mortar systems from Spain, presented with the eCompaX an electronic directional means for dismounted mortar systems of any caliber.

To replace traditional periscopes the eCompaX to simplify setting up and directing dismounted mortars and speed. the system to have multiple GPS independent sensors, including a camera, an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and a magnetic compass for all North species (magnetic-, Geografisch- and grid north), the data on the vertical and horizontal alignment of the mortar deliver. According to the statement firm alignment of the mortar to the target within 30 seconds is possible.

The eCompaX software has all the necessary functions to enable directing the mortar, either in stand-alone mode (on a separate Smart Device) or integrated into a fire control computer. The numbers in the arrows of graphical rendering (lower panel) indicate in which direction and by how much line is that the weapons system must be addressed. (Graphic: EXPAL)

The function and operation of the system is very easy. After reaching the firing position eCompaX is filed with the camera forward into the rough weft direction a few meters in front of the weapon system. The integrated North Finder to magnetic north up to seven bar can determine accuracy within about ten seconds. Then, the camera shoots a series of images in order to fix the magnetic north direction certain optically. The images are following as a guide for determining the position of the weapon system. Subsequently eCompaX is secured to the periscope recording on the bipod. Also, images are shot. An algorithm calculated from the image matching the lateral alignment of the weapon system, the position sensors determine the elevation.

In addition, the company introduced an electronic shot counters for mortar and M counter. This is independent of energy sources and to free the mortar squads of documentation tasks and simplify maintenance planning through automatic data capture.

Hirtenberger

Hirtenberger Defense Europe presented at the DSEI from the 120 mm Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System MKII (SRAMS MKII). Last year Hirtenberger announced at Eurosatory cooperation with ST Engineering, which provides that Hirtenberger will take over the marketing of automatic mortar of SRAM's family in Europe. In mid-November, the new system will be unveiled a European professional audience in Slovakia in live fire. The original 120-mm-SRAMS equipped with hydraulic height and lateral adjustment, the new SRAMS Mk II, however, has an electric height and lateral adjustment, the latter has been increased on both sides of 180 degrees.

The SRAM MK II (left) was equipped with a hydraulic horizontal and vertical adjustment, the new SRAM Mk II (right) has an electric height and lateral adjustment. (Photos: Hirtenberger)

As for the orders, however, there was some news. In addition to the recently occurring contract to modernize the superimposed 120-mm ammunition the army Hirtenberger has received an order to supply insensitive mortar rounds 60 mm at the Dutch armed forces in the first half of 2019. The framework agreement has a term of five years with the option of extension for another two years. In addition, the company confirmed sales negotiations for the Hirtenberger Defense division. The Hirtenberger Holding had decided recently to separate from the arms deal.

JUNGHANS Defence

The new mechanical mortar fuse DM111S (with impact fuze and without delay) and DM183 (impact and time fuses) are also increasingly in numerous armed forces in procurement. The DM111 S was last optimized based on customer-specific requirements. Its overall function of reliability is thus further increased. Both igniter meet the latest safety requirements of the STANAG 4187 by a wind turbine fuse acts as a second independent mechanical protection next to the acceleration control. The wind turbine backup replaces the known from previous models DM111 and DM93 safety pin. Mishandling by soldiers (premature drawing or forgotten pulling the safety pin) can thus be avoided. Furthermore, the new igniters have the advantage that they are also suitable for automatically charged mortar.

Der DM183 ist ein mechanischer Doppelzünder mit Zeit- und Aufschlagfunktion. (Foto: Waldemar Geiger)
The Flame is in the functions rapprochement detonators, percussion fuses with lag and impact fuze be used without delay. (Photo: Waldemar Geiger)

The overall planning for Produktqualifizierung- and launch of the electro-mechanical approximation igniter Flame, has been postponed by partial non-availability of required testing sites (overload) and will now complete currently scheduled mid 2020th

Rheinmetall

On July 18, 2019 at the Infantry Day in Hammelburg, Rheinmetall has unveiled the convertible 60-mm mortar RSG60. The novel design of the steep firearm has a space-saving and allows the users to the mortar in a few seconds from the transport position out to make ready to fire. The RSG60 can be separated without tools in a few steps by solving four retaining bolts from the bottom plate and use independently as a command mortar within about 30 seconds.

On the KSK Symposium in September and on the DSEI the current version was the RSG60 shown. This differs from the older press photos that showed a demonstrator from. In the current version, the handle also serves as a receptacle for the directing means and the base plate was designed ergonomic. In addition, a simple, based on a compass, and referred to as a "quick shot target device" directing agent has been issued, which combines the characteristics of a directional circle and periscope in one device.

The RSG60 with 15.6 kilograms a lightweight. In the version command mortar, the weight is 6.8 kg. (Photo: Waldemar Geiger)

was to learn from the development team of RSG60 that thermal management is crucial not affected by the composite construction of the new pipe. For physical reasons, is lighter pipes warm indeed faster, but they also cool faster. The RSG60 pipe has another handy feature. The thread at the end of the tube can be used to attach a tube extension. This range advantages can be achieved. In addition to the pipe extension Rheinmetall has also developed a prototype of a silencer, which can also be screwed onto the thread. The damper power is almost 10 dB, which corresponds to a reduction in volume by about 50 percent.

Modularity, maximum possible rate of fire and were Kosteneffezienz design determinant in the development of Ragnarok. (Photo: Waldemar Geiger)

On the DSEI Rheinmetall presented for the first time from the automatic 120-mm mortar weapon system Ragnarok (MWS120). The manually loaded and fully electric system with mechanical transmission allows a firing rate from 16 to 20 rounds per minute. Weighing almost one ton and according to the company significantly lower recoil than competitive systems Ragnarok can also be integrated on light 4 × 4 platforms with the use of supporting legs, without affecting the chassis structure of the vehicle excessively.

In developing the Ragnarok aspects the highest possible rate of fire and modularity were, according to the product manager at the lowest possible price in the foreground. Therefore, there is need for an automatic loading mechanism and the system is designed so that almost every currently in service 120 mm tube can be used. The tube can be removed and in the transportation position by the group are used dismounted as needed by using a base plate and a two-leg. Introduced systems can be used that way. In addition, the MWS120 is offered as an option with no independent fire control system, to allow continued use of imported systems as well.

Ragnarok in the transport state. (Photo: Waldemar Geiger)

The modularity of the Ragnarok offers several advantages. introduced by Reusing systems can be saved if required costs in acquiring and training a new system. It also offers interested parties the opportunity to configure practically even a mortar. All systems can be combined (with fire control system fully automatic weapon system), depending on requirements and available stagnant budget of a system vendor or multiple vendors with little integration effort into a complete system. The other advantage is that you can upgrade the components of the mortar individually without having to re-develop the entire system. The implementation of new technologies and products can already perform faster and easier during the use phase so clearly.

Conclusion

The relatively simple and robust operation of the mortar allows the use in all types of operations. The mortar is and will remain an important key on the keyboard of the military leader in the battle, especially when brought to the state of the art in addition to the modernization of the ammunition and the introduction of a 60-mm mortar, the "120s".

Waldemar Geiger