The US Army is aiming to reduce the weight of its dismounted mortar systems while taking the opportunity to field new and more effective ammunition, US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) representative Ryan Hooke told the audience at the Defence IQ Future Mortar Conference held in London.
The standard dismounted mortars used by the US Army are the 60 mm M224A1 Lightweight Company Mortar System (LWCMS), 81 mm M252A1 platoon mortar, and 120 mm M120 battalion-level mortar, all of which are smoothbore mortars.
ARDEC has commenced a programme to develop a 3D weave mortar baseplate that is 40% lighter, and has also begun studies to develop a lighter high-temperature composite barrel, without compromising the performance of either. The centre is aiming to bring both efforts to the prototype stage for demonstration.
A typical dismounted mortar comprises the barrel, baseplate, bipod, and sighting system, with the barrel and baseplate being the heaviest parts.
The latest 60 mm mortar bomb is the M1061, which has a maximum range of 3,657 m and features an enhanced fragmentation body containing 254 g of PBXN-110 explosive.
A new 81 mm M821A3E1 high-explosive (HE) mortar bomb is under development with an anticipated material release date of July 2020. This is expected to have a range of 5,500 m and will replace the currently deployed M821A3 mortar bomb when fielded.
The M821A3E1 features a high fragmentation steel body fitted with an IMX insensitive munition (IM) explosive and will be used with the XM658 propelling charge. It will also be fitted with the M734A1 Multi-Option Fuze (MOF), which can be set for proximity, point, and delayed detonation.
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