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The U.S. Army is currently evaluating whether it can equip mortar carriers such as its Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) with Patria's 120mm NEMO (New Mortar) tower. The mortar system is currently being evaluated as part of a feasibility study to determine whether it is compatible with selected army vehicles and fire control systems and whether mortar rounds currently in use could be used.

In 2019 Patria presented a NEMO tower for the first time in the USA, at that time integrated in an AMV 8 × 8 vehicle. According to Patria, the tower weighed 1.9 tons during the demonstrations at Proving Ground in Arizona and Fort Benning, Georgia. 120 mm mortar shells from the Belgian company Mecar (now Nexter ammunition) were fired. The vehicle is said to have been loaded with 60 mortar shells.

 

New mortar systems

The Armored and Stryker Brigade (ABCTs and SBCTs) are expected to strengthen the introduction of new mortar systems and provide them with fast, precise indirect and direct fire options. At the same time, the crews should be given the best possible protection and the burden reduced. This step was announced by the US Army in 2018. At that time, a first market survey was carried out to find a 120 mm mortar tower for the Future Indirect Fire Turret (FIFT) program. The equipment of upcoming systems is planned, these include the AMPV, the Stryker and the future fleet of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles (NGCV).

The purpose of the ongoing market study is to "get up-to-date information on the ability of all potential companies to develop and produce a 120mm mortar tower for the FIFT program from fiscal year 2021," said the US Army.

The capability requirements include the following: 16 rounds of fire in the first minute, followed by a sustained rate of fire of six rounds per minute.

The FIFT should have a degree of automation sufficient to reduce the physical strain on the crew and at the same time to support a high rate of fire. The tower can be manned or unmanned.

NEMO was first presented in 2006. It was also commissioned by the Slovenian armed forces in 2006, before development and testing was completed. In early 2010, Nemo was also ordered by the National Guard of Saudi Arabia (SANG), which had 36 pieces assembled on the GDLS 8 × 8 LAV vehicle. At the same time, a maritime version for boats was developed, which was integrated into the Marine Alutech Oy Watercat M12 boat and ordered by the United Arab Emirates' navy, then on a 25 m Ghannatha boat. Patria also presented a container solution at a Eurosatory.

The pipe length is around three meters, the range is specified up to ten kilometers. According to the manufacturer, the system is ready to fire in under 30 seconds and can fire up to ten grenades per minute. NEMO is a remote controlled 120 mm mortar system that can fire both direct and indirect fire from movement. NEMO can also carry out MRSI fire missions (MRSI = Multiple Round Round Simultaneous Impact) with up to six rounds per MRSI mission. Nemo is not only highly protected, but also light and compact and can therefore be integrated on light chain chassis, armored wheeled vehicles or naval ships.

 

Cooperation with Kongsberg

Patria and Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace announced today the merger for the future US mortar program. This involves combining the 120 mm mortar tower from Patria with the remote-controlled weapon stations (Remote Weapon Stations, RWS) from Kongsberg.

With regard to the US program, Patria and Kongsberg have agreed to use Kongsberg's existing RWS manufacturing facilities in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to produce NEMO for the US market. The Kongsberg facility in Johnstown, together with its broad US supplier base, has delivered over 14,000 weapon systems to the US armed forces over the past 20 years. Kongsberg produces MCT-30 towers for the Stryker program and was selected in May 2020 to also supply the U.S. Marine Corps' new amphibious combat vehicle program.

Kongsberg from Norway already bought a 49.9% minority stake in Patria from Finland in 2016. The remaining 51.1% are in the hands of the Finnish government. Since then, the two companies have been closely linked.

André Forkert