Infantry Weapons

Rheinmetall Denel Munition enhances mortar and artillery rounds

25 March 2019

RDM is working to update its family of 81 mm and 120 mm mortars as well as its 155 mm howitzer ammunition. Source: Grant Turnbull

Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) is exploring several new enhancements for its mortar and artillery ammunition, including improvements to the range and lethality of its family of 81 mm and 120 mm mortars, as well as its 155 mm howitzer ammunition.

The company is in the qualification stage for two new mortar rounds, one extended long-range (EL/R) 81 mm and an enhanced lethality 120 mm round. The latter is a new 120 mm Insensitive High Explosive Pre-Formed Fragmentation (IHE PFF) round that incorporates 3 mm tungsten balls, generating approximately 15,000 fragments in addition to the natural fragmentation created from the mortar's cast iron body.

Company officials said the PFF achieves approximately double the impact on target when compared with traditional rounds. The IHE PFF provides a mean area of effect (MEA) of 2,103 sq m with a burst height of 2 m, compared with 1,369 sq m for the natural fragmentation version, said Frans Landsberg, mortar product manager at RDM.

Meanwhile, RDM said its new EL/R 81 mm IHE round exceeds 7,100 m using the Denel Land Systems M8 LR mortar system with a high pressure 1,455 mm-long barrel. Both the new 81 mm and 120 mm mortar rounds are expected to achieve qualification in the next 12 months.

RDM is also working to build on its 155 mm howitzer ammunition, including the Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding (JBMoU)-compliant Assegai family, to meet customer requirements concerning range extension, increasing accuracy and decreasing dispersion, additional multi-purpose capabilities, and reducing unit and logistics cost.

The Assegai Velocity-Enhanced Long-Range Artillery Projectile (VLAP), fired from a 155 mm/52 calibre gun, can reach about 54 km. The company has conducted studies and trials that look to potentially increase ranges to 100 km or more. Accordingly, RDM has explored charge system improvements, including extended-range top charges for both 39 calibre and 52 calibre guns, which could improve the VLAP's range to over 60 km using the latter calibre.

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